Ritz Camera to liquidate after failing to find buyer

Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:50am IST

* Camera chain plans to close after 94 years

* Liquidators submitted top bid at bankruptcy auction

* Kodak, also bankrupt, to cut another 1,000 jobs

By Jonathan Stempel and Tom Hals

Sept 10 (Reuters) - Ritz Camera & Image LLC plans to go out of business after 94 years as it failed in a bankruptcy auction to find a buyer to keep the largest U.S. specialty camera retail chain open.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross in Wilmington, Delaware on Monday approved a plan to turn over most of Ritz's assets to liquidation specialists Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC and Hilco Merchant Resources LLC, the high bidders at a Sept. 6 auction, court records show.

"The debtors received no bid to purchase substantially all of the debtors' business and assets as a going concern," and believes a sale to the liquidators "will result in the realization of the maximum amount possible," Chief Restructuring Officer Marc Weinsweig said in a court filing.

C&A Marketing Inc, an online retailer, plans to acquire some of Ritz's intellectual property assets, court records show.

Ritz filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors on June 22, less than three years after emerging from an earlier bankruptcy under the ownership of a group led by President David Ritz, part of its founding family.

The Beltsville, Maryland-based company, which will close its remaining 137 stores, has said it has struggled in recent years with inadequate capital and liquidity, amid a shift by consumers toward digital photography and photo-sharing and lessened reliance on in-store photo processing.

Ritz's lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Eastman Kodak Co announced plans on Monday to cut 1,000 jobs by year end, on top of 2,700 eliminated this year, after receiving lower-than-expected bids in a bankruptcy auction of 1,100 patents to help repay creditors. It also said Chief Operating Officer Philip Faraci and Chief Financial Officer Antoinette McCorvey are leaving the company.

Ritz had about 375 stores when it emerged from its earlier bankruptcy, and had reduced that number to about 265 in 30 U.S. states by the time of its latest bankruptcy. The company in June said it employed about 1,960 people.

The case is In re: Ritz Camera & Image LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 12-11868.

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