Ritz Camera's 400 stores heading to auction

Wilmington, Del., July 8 (Reuters) - The largest U.S. chain of photography stores, Ritz Camera Centers Inc, will auction its approximately 400 stores by the end of July, possibly to be liquidated, according to documents filed in bankruptcy court.

The company, which had 800 stores when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, said it no longer had enough funds to purchase fall inventory and continue operations, forcing it to sell the remaining locations.

The company said it had “determined for a number of reasons that a plan to exit bankruptcy as a stand-alone going concern business is not a likely option,” according to documents filed Tuesday in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware.

The documents said there are two potential bidders that may continue to operate the company’s Ritz Camera, Wolf Camera, Kits Cameras, Inkley’s and The Camera Shop stores. But the documents contain several provisions, such as waivers of state and local requirements applying to liquidation sales, that would clear the way for an immediate going out of business sale.

Ritz Camera Centers has proposed to hold the auction on July 20 with a court hearing on July 23 to approve the sale. Going out of business sales could begin the day after the court approves the sale, the documents said.

Earlier this year, Ritz Camera Centers liquidated its 130 Boater’s World stores and 400 photography stores as part of its initial reorganization plan. The company determined that, despite the lower costs and added funds from the liquidation sales, it would not have sufficient capital to continue to operate.

The attorney for Ritz Camera Centers could not be reached for comment.

The case is In re: Ritz Camera Centers Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 09-10617. (Editing by Andre Grenon)