BLACKBURN'S billionaire Issa brothers have wished McColl's staff "the best for the future" after their EG Group lost out to Morrisons in the battle to take over the collapsed retailer.

A spokesperson for the firm confirmed it had bid for the convenience store chain after it fell into administration last week.

But Morrisons was eventually chosen to rescue the 1,160 shops and 16,000 staff after it promised to repay £170 million in debts from McColl’s to the the lenders in cash.

EG group had initially been the favourite to secure the chain over the weekend until the Bradford-based supermarket tabled an improved offer yesterday.

On Monday administrators PwC announced supermarket giant Morrisons had been chosen over Mohsin and Zuber Issa's main business, which owns Asda, 6,100 petrol forecourt business worldwide and several food businesses employing more than 40,000 staff.

An EG Group spokesperson said:“EG Group notes today’s announcement by PwC in relation to McColl’s Retail Group following a pre-pack administration process.

“EG confirms that it was interested in rescuing the McColl’s business.

"Our proposal would have safeguarded the UK jobs of 16,000 McColl’s colleagues, increased the pay of all hourly-paid colleagues aged 18 and over to £10.05, maintained all the currently trading stores, and ensured continued provision of invaluable community services, such as Post Office counters.

"Moreover, EG Group had proposed to maintain the link between McColl’s pensions schemes and the business, respecting historical promises made to the members of the schemes.

“EG also hopes the announcement will bring to an end the uncertainty for the hard-working colleagues at McColl’s and wishes them the best for the future.”

Morrisons chief executive, David Potts, said: “Although we are disappointed that the business was put into administration, we believe this is a good outcome for McColl’s and all its stakeholders.

"This transaction offers stability and continuity for the McColl’s business and, in particular, a better outcome for its colleagues and pensioners.

“We all look forward to welcoming many new colleagues into the Morrisons business and to building on the proven strength of the Morrisons Daily format.”

Morrisons is currently McColl’s wholesale supply partner and was expected to immediately terminate its deal with the convenience chain if the takeover move proved unsuccessful.

McColl’s also runs around 270 stores under the Morrisons Daily brand, and has a number of sites in Blackburn and across East Lancashire.

Rob Lewis, joint administrator and partner at PwC, said the deal provided "much needed certainty to McColl's 16,000 staff after a period of understandable concern".