MOUNT AIRY, N.C. (AP) _ Brown Wooten Mills says it plans to close a plant and a distribution center in Mount Airy and Burlington, putting more than 600 people out of work in the next few weeks.

The company, which makes women's and men's socks for the St. John's Bay, Cherokee and Route 66 brands, attributed the closures to an economic slump, which worsened with the announcement that one of its buyers, Kmart, would file for bankruptcy.

``Basically, it's just that we were not able to obtain capital to continue operating,'' said Dan Bulman, the director of manufacturing at the Mount Airy plant. ``We have not declared bankruptcy, but we are going out of business. Like a lot of businesses, we operated on borrowed money, and our lenders just weren't willing to go forward with us.''

Brown Wooten, which has its headquarters in Burlington, has had a presence in Mount Airy for about 40 years, company officials said. About 300 people work at the knitting plant and nearby distribution center.

Until recently, the Mount Airy plant operated three shifts. But slow demand in the past few weeks led to temporary layoffs and a reduction to only one shift, Bulman said.