July 9, 2009

Ritz to sell or liquidate photo shops

Struggling U.S. photo chain Ritz Camera said it was willing to auction off its 370 remaining stores or liquidate the company by July 24.

Papers filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware said there were two potential buyers for the business. If no deals were signed at a July 20 auction, however, the company would move to liquidate to avoid $3 million in rent due in September, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The chain, which has already eliminated 400 outlets, is a victim of the digital age, analysts said.

With traffic in malls down and digital cameras taking business from traditional film, the chance of a viable deal to save the company is questionable, the newspaper said.

What they've done has never been done before and will never be done again, said Gary Pageau, a publisher at the Photo Marketing Association.

The stores began in 1918 with a portrait studio on the boardwalk of Atlantic City before building into a national chain. The company also included the Boater's World Marine Centers, which have already closed.