WAL-MART KEEPS WALKING: Wal-Mart Stores is moving north in a big way.

The discounter plans to acquire 120 Woolco stores in Canada from Woolworth Corp.

Wal-Mart said it plans to convert the Woolco units to Wal-Mart stores, with remerchandising and new fixtures. The stores average 100,000 square feet. The conversion process is expected to commence as soon as the deal is closed, which will probably take place in March.

The transaction includes the subleases and assets of the 120 stores and virtually all of the inventory and inventory commitments of the Woolco operation.

R. Bruce West, who had been president and chief operating officer of the Woolco division, will become president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart’s Canadian operations.

The agreement calls for Wal-Mart to hire substantially all Woolco store employees in the acquired units, and Wal-Mart said it intends to hire non-store employees as it builds its operations in Canada.

With this acquisition, Wal-Mart will have spread discount stores across North America.

BRADLEES CHOPS: Bradlees Inc. is cutting its central office staff and store management by 280 people in a move that is expected to save the company about 1 percent of sales, or about $1.8 million, in 1994.

Last year, Bradlees, based in Braintree, Mass., had sales of $1.83 billion.

Since early 1993, Bradlees, which currently employs more than 16,000, has reorganized its merchandising division, restructured its planning and allocation division and changed its store management, all in an effort to create a more efficient operation.

Separately, Bradlees said it plans to open six to 10 stores this year, including its first stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, N.Y.

Bradlees operates 126 discount department stores, mainly in the Northeast.