Deloitte hits back after Woolworths' former board blames firm for failing

City accountancy firm Deloitte yesterday hit back at claims from Woolworths&rsquo; former directors holding it responsible for the high street retailer&rsquo;s demise.<br /><br />Woolworths&rsquo; former chairman Richard North, and former chief executive Steve Johnson complained that Deloitte&rsquo;s dual role as both adviser to Woolworths and administrator to the business when it collapsed last November constitutes a potential conflict of interest.<br /><br />North and Jones have argued that Deloitte decided not to back an emergency rescue plan by Woolworths&rsquo; management team, which would have saved the majority of the business, due to its interest in the higher fees it would pocket as administrator.<br /><br />Deloitte has made &pound;3.8m in fees after the 99-year-old pick &lsquo;n&rsquo; mix chain collapsed&nbsp; in what became the most high-profile retail casualty of the downturn. <br /><br />Close to 30,000 jobs were lost, and 800 stores shut &ndash; 70 per cent of which remain empty one year on.<br /><br />But Deloitte has rejected any claim that any of its decisions were based on its fees.<br /><br />It said: &ldquo;Woolworths failed because it was losing money and had no cash. It was the directors themselves, not the banks, who appointed Deloitte as administrators, based on the realisation that the company had run out of money and could not continue trading on a solvent basis.<br /><br />Deloitte added: &ldquo;We are never driven by the fees available but simply by the pure economics of the options for the creditors.&rdquo;