February 24, 2009

Ritz Camera files for protection

Retail giant Ritz Camera, dragged down by a recession and slumping sales, has filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware, court records show.

The retail group grew from an Atlantic City, N.J., portrait studio, begun in 1918, to a chain with 800 stores in 40 states. A consumer switch from film to digital cameras -- with decreased revenue from film processing -- and a severe economic downturn has hurt the company, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The company didn't respond to requests for information on possible layoffs or store closings, the newspaper said.

In the age of digital cameras, the photography business is very competitive with bigger retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart offering better prices, Mark Millman, president of Millman Search Group, told the Post.

Ritz Camera also operates the Boater's World Marine Centers chain, a boating accessories and fishing supply retailer, which has seen sales fall.

If people aren't buying boats, Boater's World won't have customers coming in to buy their products, Phil Keeter, president of the Marine Retailers Association, said to the Post.