– Ritz Camera CEO David Ritz said he is confident that his namesake retail
chain will emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a going concern.
In a statement
issued this afternoon, Ritz confirmed that the company is negotiating with two
potential buyers, either one of which would continue operations.
According to the
statement, Ritz Camera “takes issue with recent press characterizations of its
decision to seek bids for the business,” as was indicated in bankruptcy court
The company said its decision
to proceed with an asset sale “is a normal and customary means of
facilitating an exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy,” and that the asset sale and
upcoming auction on July 20 is simply the next step toward completing its
Chapter 11 proceeding.
camera chain, which filed for bankruptcy in February, closed half of its 800
camera stores and shut its 130-unit Boater’s World chain of water sports stores
in a recently concluded fire sale that began in March.
actions, which lowered its costs and increased its liquidity, the company
indicated it is unable to fund operations through the summer or purchase
inventory for the fall holiday season.
According to a
motion filed earlier this month with the federal bankruptcy court in
Wilmington, Del., Ritz is hopeful it will reach an agreement with one of the
two bidders, but will conduct an open auction for essentially all of its assets
should the parties fail to reach an agreement.
Ritz, the nation’s
largest specialty camera and imaging products chain, filed for bankruptcy
protection amid declines in its camera and boating businesses and demands by
lenders to boost its reserves. The chain includes the Ritz Camera, Wolf Camera,
Kits Camera, Inkley’s and The Camera Shop store brands.
The privately held
business began in 1918 as an Atlantic
City portrait studio founded by Benjamin Cohen. His
grandson, current chairman, president and CEO David Ritz, led the 2001 acquisition
of cousin Chuck Wolf’s chain, Wolf Camera, which raised the store count to over
800 locations in more than 40 states.
The company raised
more than $40 million from its Boater’s World fire sales, and was expected to
sell some $50 million in close-out imaging inventory, which included digital cameras
and accessories, d-SLR compact cameras, digital frames, binoculars, camcorders
and video accessories.
The sales were
conducted by the same joint
venture that liquidated Circuit
City’s stores, comprised
of Great American Group, SB Capital Group, Tiger Capital Group and Hudson