Retailer Woolworth is gasping for air. On Oct. 13, the company announced that it will close some 970 general merchandise and specialty stores in the U.S. and Canada. The move will eliminate 13,000 jobs from Woolworth's payroll and force the company to take a $775 million pretax write-off against 1993 earnings. The restructuring is Woolworth's second in as many years. By the end of 1993, the retail chain will have shuttered 1,200 stores. At the end of 1992, Woolworth had nearly 9,000 outlets. The move prompted Duff & Phelps to place Woolworth's A+ debt on credit watch. Woolworth stock fell 1/4, closing at 26 1/8 on Oct. 13.

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