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DOVER, Del. (AP) — Ritz Camera Centers, the nation’s largest retail photography chain, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The Beltsville, Md.-based company submitted its filing Sunday in federal bankruptcy court in Wilmington, estimating assets and liabilities at between $100 million and $500 million. The list of its top 30 unsecured creditors is led by Nikon Inc. and Canon USA Inc., which are owed a combined $40 million in trade debt.
The company said revenue from its profitable photofinishing business has declined significantly with the shift from film to digital cameras, and that 2008 holiday sales were “materially lower” than prior year sales. It also said23 an increase in gasoline prices, along with other economic factors, led to a sharp drop in sales in its Boater’s World recreational marine business last year.
Ritz has about 800 photo stores in 40 states, operating as Ritz Camera, Wolf Camera, Kits Cameras, Inkley’s and The Camera Shops. It also operates 130 Boater’s World stores. The company, which has about 6,400 employees nationwide, recorded sales of just under $1 billion last year.
Not particularly surprised. Haven’t been to a Ritz Camera in ages, and most of the time I was there to window shop or pick up something cheap like a lens cloth. If they were using film developing to stay afloat, the latest trends in cheap printers and digital photos has done them in.
Still, Chapter 11 is the “good bankruptcy”… They aren’t being liquidated, like Circuit City currently is. We’ll have to wait and see if they can roll with the punches and modernize for the digital camera age.
I wouldn’t bet on it though, not as long as Amazon and B&H have an online presence.