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Ritz Camera seeks Chapter 11 protection a second time

As many in New Jersey know, the faltering American economy has altered the lives of countless consumers, as people struggle to manage their debt load and readjust their spending. The economic downturn also affects businesses, causing them to make similar adjustments. Financial woes, combined with a society steadily moving toward greater technological advancement, have led longstanding photography company Ritz Camera & Image to seek bankruptcy protection with their second Chapter 11 filing.

The company was founded in 1936, and became a leader in the photography industry, offering a wide range of cameras and photography equipment for sale and also processing film. When the market began to shift to digital photography, the company struggled and saw profits fall as debt mounted. By late 2009, Ritz felt that Chapter 11 protection was their best option, and moved forward with their first filing.

The chain now claims assets and liabilities between $50 million and $100 million. Sales were up 20 percent this May, but the company's chief restructuring officer says that the increase is not sufficient to support operating costs. Their next step is the planned closing of 128 of their 265 stores, with a 50 percent reduction of their estimated 2,000 employees.

As more and more people turn to digital cameras or use their phones to capture images, Ritz may have to shift focus to stay in the imaging game. The company has begun to promote their digital services to try and retain their existing customer base; they now produce calendars, DVDs and other digital products in addition to their equipment sales. Consumers in New Jersey will wait to see if this latest Chapter 11 filing gives the company the relief they need to restructure and get back on their feet.

Source: The Washington Post, "Ritz Camera files for bankruptcy protection, again," Danielle Douglas, June 22, 2012

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