NEW YORK Feb 23 Ritz Camera Centers Inc, which
said it is the largest U.S. specialty camera and imaging chain,
on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, hurt by
the recession and consumers' shift to digital photography.
The Beltsville, Maryland-based company filed for protection
from creditors with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Wilmington,
Delaware. Ritz said it has between $100 million and $500
million of both assets and liabilities.
Ritz operates under such names as Ritz Camera, Wolf Camera,
Kits Cameras, Inkley's and The Camera Shops, and also operates
the 130-store Boater's World Marine Centers chain. It said it
had nearly $1 billion of revenue in the year ended Nov. 30,
In an affidavit, Chief Restructuring Officer Marc Weinsweig
said the company's lenders ordered the company in January to
boost reserves, thereby reducing available credit.
He said this came after the recession caused Ritz's 2008
holiday sales to be "materially lower" than a year earlier.
Ritz was also hurt by losses at Boater's World, which suffered
falling sales in 2008 as gas prices soared.
"The loss of revenues and profit margins from the
diminution in the photo-finishing business proved too much of a
burden, coupled with the losses experienced by the Boater's
World business in 2008," he wrote.
Ritz said it will seek court permission to obtain $85
million of financing to keep operating while it restructures.
Among the largest unsecured creditors are Nikon Inc
(7731.T), with a $26.6 million claim, and Canon USA Inc
(7751.T), with a $13.7 million claim, the bankruptcy petition
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)