The proceedings have been initiated because of “impending insolvency and over-indebtedness” the court said in a statement. The move means that Woolworth will have no access to its current capital for the duration of the proceedings.
Ottmar Hermann, the lawyer named as insolvency administrator by the court, had given Woolworth employees cause for hope when bankruptcy fears were raised mid-April.
He said then that there were “good chances” that the company would survive.
Woolworth Deutschland, which has been owned since late 2007 by the British investment group Argyll Partners, includes about 330 stores in Germany and Austria, with 10,700 German employees.
The last British Woolworth closed shop on January 6, with the group's collapse in that country leaving 27,000 people out of work. The clothes-to-confectionery retailer has steadily lost market share in the past few years as specialised stores undercut its prices.