Ritz files for Chapter 11 protection

Discussion in 'News' started by djcphoto, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. Youch. Apparently they owe Nikon $26 milliion, and Canon $13 million.

    They also say that the loss of photo finishing business (because of the growth of digital photography, they say) was a big factor. What they (at least at one of my local stores) never figured out was that I have minilabs print more for me today than ever before... but that they've always done such a lousy job at it (and at a higher price!) that it's been easier to just hand the work over to Costco. Further, my local Ritz stopped serving as an online target for their dot-com printing service. Walk-up-and-wait service only. So: make it harder for me to do business with you, charge more, and do a worse job with the physical results... gee! I wonder why they're not getting that business from me, and Costco is, instead.

    Oh, and apparently the fact that the same parent company also has a 130-location chain of Marine/Boating stores that's being a big ol' financial boat anchor (ba-da-bing!) isn't helping matters, since fuel costs and credit crunching has reduced the traffic in that sector, big time.
  2. That's too bad. They have the only camera store in my little town. I've tried to use their lab on a number of jobs and the prints were always screwed up. In fact I have a total of zero prints I've ever actually walked away with from them because they didn't do it correctly. Because they refused to carry a single roll of B&W film, I ended up with absolutely no reason to go in there. They had a surprisingly decent selection of Nikon lenses.
    They also own Camera World in Portland. That would be a loss, but they had their own problems some years ago.
    They have $100M in assets and a half billion in liabilities. I wonder when their "ah-ha" moment was.
  3. Throw in that the online store is operated by a different company then they brick and mortar presence and you have a perfect convergence of problems for them. Hell I am still pissed that I can't use a $50 gift card online since they are 'two different companies'. I guess I should go ahead and buy some more film from them with it before it might not be any good.
  4. I had the same experience with our local Ritz as far as print quality; all my work now goes to Sams Club (Costco) too. Again, they carry hardly any film anymore, although I did clear them out of thier remaining Polaroid stock a few months ago, which pleased them almost as much as it pleased me (I got it all for a *very* good price)!
    I also noticed that they carry a great selection of Nikon pro-level gear. Probably explains the discrepency between what they owe Nikon and Canon.
  5. I worked with them one summer to help a friend manager. They were no fun to work for. Greed was put ahead of service and quality. Sell, sell, sell, push, push, push the customer until they bought or left the store pissed off. Their downfall also was the purchasing of Ritz's cousins chain named Wolfe Photo.
  6. They have $100M in assets and a half billion in liabilities. I wonder when their "ah-ha" moment was.

    Not according to the Reuters article if you read it at all carefully. The article spoke of a total of assets AND liabilities together. I expect they will be allowed to restructure and sink the boat business.
    I know someone who worked until recently at the local Ritz. (He left for grad school.) He always made proof prints for customers and reprinted files until the photog was satisfied. He had to sell. That is how all camera stores make money. I have gone to both Adorama and B&H in New York and the sales pressure was no more nor less than at the local Ritz or Jack's.
  7. Les, thanks, I guess I misread it: "Ritz said it has between $100 million and $500 million of both assets and liabilities. " I took it as being written in the former and latter style writing. Though if they can't decide if it's $100M or $500M, they obviously have bigger accounting problems than I even initially imagined.
  8. According to an article here:
    They owe 13 Billion in debentures. Where do they get the $100,000,000 to $500,000,000 total assets and liabilities figure from? BTW, when first filing a Chapter 11, the format requires the filer to select a category of estimated assets and liabilities. I believe one of the categories is $100,000,000 to $500,000,000, so probably that was either stated as a category or check-marked on a form. Perhaps debentures do not fall in the classification of debt where they had to pick a category.
    The Ritz store in Grossmont Center, La Mesa, CA has consistently turned out good prints for the last eight years. They were a little pricy but were always on time, good to very good quality prints and had a good customer service attitude. I have never been the only customer in that somewhat-small location, even though I often go there during what would normally be low-volume times. Maybe their good service and attitude kept them going. The only complaint I ever had was with their scanning. Their machine was set to scan 36mm wide on 35mm film, but they told me they could only do a partial width on APS, as the machine would not stretch to the full width (which is less than 36mm). I pointed out if it could stretch to 35mm, it could stretch to APS, whereupon they blinked twice and repeated what they had previously told me. I had seen the same people running the machine for at least the past three years. You'd think they would have learned better. However that is a small complaint when compared with the good and accommodating service I had otherwise received for a full eight years. If this store closes, there will be no place to get one-hour prints in the immediate area.
    On the other hand, several years ago, I went into an ex-Wolf, turned Ritz, store on Dale Mabry in N. Tampa, FL, where the two men on duty were obviously high on drugs with wild eyes, swinging their hair back and forth, and not all that coherent, as they used four-letter words jokingly back and forth in the main customer area. I asked for a particular roll of film, which they said they did not have. I pointed it out on the wall about two feet behind his head, whereupon he reluctantly allowed me to purchase some. That location was closed the next year when we took our annual trip. Also in N. Tampa was a Ritz store in the University Mall off Fowler or Fletcher Aves. They were not too enthusiastic slackers, but made acceptable prints with little fuss. I've been in a half dozen Ritz stores and never been hustled aggressively to make a purchase.
    Tom Burke
  9. I can't believe anyone would prefer Costco over Ritz. I've seen the casts on Costco photos. No thank you. But then maybe it's the area. The Ritz here does great work and they have a knowledgeable staff.
    Too bad the corportation is in trouble.
  10. Ritz/Wolf Camera has always been out of touch.
    Ignorant sales people, pushing equipment and services they know little about.
    And then there's their pricing: Full Price MSRP! Let them be gone.

  11. With Ritz's indebted to Canon and Nikon for 40 million dollars before they filed for protection it will be interesting to see how they plan on handling the loss.
  12. well, even if the entire $40 million outstanding were just to Canon, that's not even 1/10th of 1% (0.01%) of Canon's total sales of $44.9 billion. For most people, that'd be like losing $20 - annoying but not particularly meaningful. All I mean is that I don't think we're going to see price increases because of this.
    As for the demise of Ritz, it was clearly coming. The ones near me had among the highest prices for equipment and services, to the point where it was never worth buying anything with them. And that's even including the corporate discount I got with one employer. They were attentive but considering Adorama was around the corner, and B&H up the road, they never really tried to make themselves particularly knowledgeable about equipment.
    I hope they take this chance to re-make themselves and become more competitive when they emerge from bankruptcy - some of the "name" stores are getting a little complacent (even in these times) and could use a little competition.
  13. I am in central CT. My experience with Ritz is mixed. While the staff is knowledgable, the print quality was mediocore. My prints from Walmart were better and cheaper.
  14. Oh, don't cry for me Argentina-! Their prices were always way out of line with the rest of the market and their sales people were like used car salesmen - it didn't make going into their stores much fun. Good service, good pricing goes a long way in making a business profitable.
  15. Any investor/lender who was willing to finance a family company who's diversified around two industries that depend on their customers disposable income such as photography and boating, and with one of those industries directly related to the price of oil made either a poor, or a very shrewd decision some time ago. You might recall at the time Ritz purchased it's smaller competitors of consumer orientated digital photography there were many other bit to paper options, the high cost of brick and mortar, and the successes seen by respectable on line suppliers, had already weakened those small chains Ritz purchased.
    Another interesting point is that the photography manufacturing industry, as a whole, showed only a small reduction in growth in 2007-2008. While this reduction in growth may/should increase in 2008-2009 it's still an industry that should make it through the economic downturn. Manufactures need to align themselves with cellular based devises to hedge what will probably be the demise of the point and shoot market but that's another story.
    If Ritz were serious about strengthening its photography side you would of seen a great deal more continuity of management, better value added service, and the lowest consumable prices in its industry. All this leads me to believe that the people behind Ritz's taking over its faltering competition where depending on the obvious increase in oil and the brick and mortar costs to validate it's chapter eleven thereby creating a shelter from its vendor and tax obligations. The ship is sinking, do you want to get in a lifeboat or use a life preserver.
    Of course this is simply an opinion.
  16. I think It all depends on the location. I know that Ritz has a lot of stores where the employees really do care. Chapter 11 isn't a bad thing. David Ritz knew that the company was in trouble and took this as an approach to keep the store in business. Ritz camera still has the best damage protection when purchasing a camera. You can throw, dunk, or even smash your camera, and as long as you have your camera they will either fix it or replace it!!
    I can't believe so many people would rather trust costco or sam's!! I have been to both and delt with the most annoying people you have ever met!! There are a few Ritz stores with stupid people working there, but who wants to work for minium wage? Teenagers, so that is who gets hired!!
  17. I used Ritz for film processing a few years ago and grew frustrated by some of their policies.
    They charge you an extra dollar for an index print, and if you dont want it they rip it in up right in front of you.... What an insult! (Costco gives you an index print for free, by the way).
    They used to have some sort of prefered customer card on which you would collect points ... after a certain number of points, they mailed you a coupon for $3.50. If I remember, it took a lot of points to earn that $3.50, and the coupon had to be used within a few months or it expired. I had one that was a few months out of date and they would not honor it, even though those were points I had earned by spending money at their store.
  18. Strange, the Ritz near me did a great job with a bunch of film I took there once. It was something like 25 rolls too. But generally I just do Costco for the price.
  19. I withdraw my comments above with this update. I just was at a Ritz store where most of the former employees had been replaced by unknowledgeable folks with an obvious attitude. I was then lied to about the only thing they seemed to know about. So.. I won't go in there again and I sure won't renew my "membership". I'm only one customer, but they are driving their scarce remaining customers away, one at a time. Makes me think that they won't reorganize in bankruptcy, but rather fail.
    I'll miss what they were but not what they are.
    Tom Burke

Share This Page