Jun 19, 2009
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German Woolworth to close more than half its stores

Jun 19, 2009

FRANKFURT, June 19 (Reuters) - The insolvency administrator of bankrupt German department store chain Woolworth plans to close more than half of Woolworth's stores within the next couple of months, his spokesman said on Friday 19 June.

Infiniti Woman at Woolworth

Especially the midsize stores had a good chance to survive, while up to 190 of the total 311 stores were going to be closed down, a spokesman for administrator Ottmar Hermann said.

There was no investor in sight who would be interested in the whole chain, but some had already expressed interest in parts of it, he added.

A source close to the matter said in May that a consortium led by restructuring and liquidation specialist Gordon Brothers was eyeing around 130 small stores.

Retailers Tengelmann, Rossmann and DM are also interested in some stores, according to media reports.

Woolworth, owned by British investor Argyll Partners, ran out of cash in April after struggling with falling sales as supermarkets, discounters and other specialist retailers snatched away customers.

Local rival Karstadt and its parent company Arcandor (AROG.DE) filed for insolvency last week after the German government rejected its calls for state aid.

U.S. retailer F.W. Woolworth founded its German subsidiary in 1926 and opened its first store in the northern German city of Bremen in 1927.

The unit split from its parent in 1998 in a management buyout and since 2007 has been owned by Argyll Partners. (Reporting by Alexander Huebner, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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