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 DALLAS, June 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Woolworth Corporation (NYSE: Z) plans to open more than 800 stores in a number of different formats this year, continuing its vigorous expansion into specialty retailing, both at home and abroad, Harold E. Sells, chairman and chief executive officer, told the company's annual meeting of shareholders here today.
 The large New York-based multinational retailer has earmarked $390 million in planned cash capital spending in 1993, for opening new stores, development of new formats and related technological support, Sells said. The company opened a total of 904 stores in diverse formats in 1992, about a third in space vacated by underproductive stores that were closed under its accelerated store-redeployment program initiated early last year.
 Confidence in the company's future growth and profit-ability, Sells noted, was reflected this past April when the board of directors increased the quarterly dividend on common stock from 28 cents per share to 29 cents per share.
 Sells told shareholders that the company foresees its highly successful Foot Locker athletic footwear and apparel format "rapidly becoming a global retailer, in much the same way as McDonald's has." The Foot Locker chain, since its launching with a single store in California in 1974, ended 1992 with over 1,750 stores worldwide, and plans are to open 115 Foot Locker stores this year. Today, Foot Locker stores are located in every state in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Canada, Australia, Mexico and eight European countries -- England, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Europe is "currently a principal area of concentration for Foot Locker growth," Sells said, noting that from a base of 143 stores at year-end 1992, the company expects to expand to at least 1,000 Foot Locker stores throughout Europe by the year 2000.
 Sells said that World Foot Locker, the new, large-scale spin-off of the Foot Locker concept, had been so successful in Dallas that the area would be getting a second World Foot Locker store -- in Red Bird Mall -- scheduled to open in July. This is the third of the stores to be opened nationally. The first two World Foot Locker stores opened in the Northpark Mall in Dallas and in the Raceway Mall in Freehold, New Jersey, late last year.
 Frederick E. Hennig, Woolworth Corporation president and chief operating officer, told shareholders that the World Foot Locker format, which offers a vast assortment of most-wanted athletic footwear and apparel in a futuristic setting, is a "mall category killer." He said that there are as many as 300-to-600 high volume malls in which World Foot Locker stores could be opened in the future, "significantly increasing" the company's share of the $12 billion athletic footwear market in the United States. Hennig added that a World Foot Locker could "easily generate five-to-ten times the volume of a typical Foot Locker store, many of which produce revenues of about a million dollars a year."
 As previously announced, Sells will be retiring as chairman and chief executive officer of Woolworth Corporation at the end of this month after 48 years with the company, the last six in his present position. Sells welcomed his successor, William K. Lavin, who takes office July 1, as an able executive "who has the confidence and respect of all of us." Lavin, 48, has been with the company for more than 12 years, most recently as executive vice president-finance and administration and chief financial officer. Following retirement, Sells will continue to serve as a director of the company.
 Lavin told shareholders, as he prepares to assume stewardship of the company, that his vision for Woolworth Corporation is to be "the best specialty retailer in the world while enhancing shareholder value."
 Lavin paid tribute to Sells for the retiring chairman's "high standards, focus, professional excellence, vision, resourcefulness and motivational and leadership qualities...the example of what all of us will strive for in the future."
 Sells said he was pleased to note that the company has registered substantial growth in several major respects during his tenure as chairman and chief executive since 1987: a 42 percent increase in the number of stores from 6,300 to nearly 9,000 at year-end 1992, and an over 18 percent increase in the number of different formats, from 34 in 1987 to more than 40 currently. He also reported increases of some 53 percent in revenues from $6.5 billion to about $10 billion last year, and 32 percent in net income per share from $1.62 per share to $2.14 per share in 1992, "even with today's recessionary environment in most countries where we operate."
 Reviewing the past year, Sells said 1992 results reflected a solid recovery in domestic profits and only a slight decline in foreign profits, despite the continued sluggish United States economy and recessions in Canada and Europe, the company's two most-significant foreign markets. Worldwide revenues rose slightly in 1992 to $9,962 million from $9,914 million the year before, reflecting both the troubled economies in each of the company's major markets and the effect of the store closings in the United States under the accelerated redeployment program.
 Net income for 1992 rose 42 percent, to $280 million, or $2.14 per share, compared with $197 million, or $1.51 per share in 1991, before after-tax charges totaling $363 million, or $2.79 per share, resulting from the accelerated redeployment program and the cumulative effect of a change in accounting for retiree benefits.
 Weak economic conditions and low consumer confidence in major markets, Sells continued, affected the company's results for the first quarter of 1993 when worldwide revenues increased 1.9 percent to $2,135 million over the prior year's first quarter. Net income was $1 million, or one cent per share, compared with the year-earlier quarter's $17 million, or 13 cents per share. Sells noted that first-quarter results historically represent a small portion of annual earnings, adding that it was management's belief that, "as a result of our redeployment and expansion plans, the company will be well positioned to benefit from a future economic upturn."
 Hennig spelled out, in some detail, recent developments in the company's pursuit of diversification, with emphasis on its continuing aggressive expansion into specialty retailing.
 Hennig said that while the Foot Locker chain has been a major contributor to the rapid growth of the company's specialty sector, there are four other specialty concepts which "are already in an explosive- growth phase and hold great promise for the future."
 These "rising stars," he said, include Champs Sports stores, Lady Foot Locker stores, the Afterthoughts/Carimar group of stores and Northern Reflections stores.
 Champs Sports stores feature athletic equipment, footwear and apparel. There are currently more than 400 Champs Sports stores in 41 states and Canada, and the company expects to have more than 800 of these stores by the end of 1997. The Lady Foot Locker chain, specializing in women's athletic footwear and apparel, finished 1992 with 551 stores and could exceed 800 units by the end of 1997. The Afterthoughts and Carimar costume jewelry, handbag and accessory boutiques currently number 700 units in the United States, which, with offshoots in Canada and Germany, total 838 stores worldwide. The company expects to have more than 1,500 units worldwide by the end of
1997. Northern Reflections, a mall-based women's casual-apparel specialty store format, at year-end 1992 had 318 units in the United States and Canada. Over 500 Northern Reflections stores are planned by the end of 1997.
 In the past five years, Hennig reported, "total revenues of these 'rising stars' have grown from $118 million in 1987 to more than $1 billion in 1992, and are targeted to rise to $2.8 billion by the end of 1997. Operating profit in the same period went from $7 million in 1987 to more than $100 million in 1992, and could reach $300 million by the end of 1997."
 Several other promising specialty formats, now at an introductory stage, also "hold great promise for future growth," Hennig said. He cited The San Francisco Music Box Company chain, featuring musical giftware, which currently has 137 units and a mail-order catalog, with 28 more stores planned for 1993; Going to the Game! stores, offering licensed athletic-related products and sports memorabilia, which numbered 50 units at the end of last year; Kids Foot Locker stores, featuring children's footwear and apparel, currently with 100 units and another 100 planned by the end of 1997, and Northern Getaway stores, a spin-off from the Northern Reflections format, specializing in children's apparel, introduced only last year and slated to have 35 stores in Canada and 11 in the United States by the end of this year.
 The company also operates general merchandise stores in the United States, Canada, Germany and Mexico. Hennig noted that, in the United States, Woolworth continues, after 114 years, to be "an integral part of the American scene," notably "in major urban centers, where Woolworth stores service shoppers who live, work and visit those centers." Hennig reported that the urban center stores are proving to be excellent places in which to install pharmacies. Six pharmacies have been installed in Woolworth stores thus far with "outstanding results," and 30 more are planned this year alone.
 In Canada, Hennig said the company is rapidly expanding The Bargain Shop! chain, its newest general-merchandise format, as well as achieving improved results from its Woolco full-line promotional department store operation as the result of an aggressive merchandising and advertising strategy.
 In Germany, he said, the emphasis is on opening many more "mini" Woolworth stores in small towns across the country; while in Mexico, he reported, the company is taking advantage of growth opportunities "in the successful operations of our general merchandise stores."
 "Diversification is an important source of Woolworth's strength," Hennig concluded. "It is one of the things that makes us unique, and positions us to add value for our shareholders."
 In other actions at the annual meeting, held in the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Dallas, the shareholders re-elected three directors to three-year terms on the 11-member board: Hennig, who has been president and chief operating officer of Woolworth Corporation since 1987; John W. Adams, former chairman of Emco Limited, London, Ontario, Canada, and director of a number of companies, and J. Carter Bacot, chairman and chief executive officer of The Bank of New York Company, Inc. and The Bank of New York. In another action, the reappointment of Price Waterhouse as independent accountants for the current year was ratified by the shareholders.
 Two directors retired from the board at the annual meeting, having reached the company's mandatory retirement age for directors. They were John W. Lynn, retired chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the company; and Eugene J. Sullivan, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Borden, Inc.
 Lynn, whose association with Woolworth Corporation spans over 52 years, had earlier been appointed by the board as an honorary director in recognition of his exemplary service.
 -0- 6/17/93
 /CONTACT: Frances E. Trachter of Woolworth, 212-553-2394, or 214-720-5378/

CO: Woolworth Corporation ST: New York IN: REA SU:

PS -- NY061 -- 3100 06/17/93 12:36 EDT
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Date:Jun 17, 1993

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