Thursday, March 13, 2014

CalumetPhoto - Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

While rumors have been swirling for much of the day on Wednesday, the story about whether or not the storied camera store chain CalumetPhoto has filed for bankruptcy have come true. LLC has voluntarily filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listed as case #14-08908 in the Northern District of Illinois United States Bankruptcy Court. The filing is dated March 12, 2014 and the first meeting is scheduled on April 22, 2014.

CalumetPhoto, in recent months, has been pulling back from their participation in activities they have, in the past, normally sponsored or been involved in, and there have been grumblings amongst store management as well as serious concerns raised by some equipment manufacturing representatives and vendors as well. While many companies file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to reorganize, sources tell Photo Business News that while CalumetPhoto tried this route, ultimately they found themselves in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is the phase companies end up in when Chapter 11 does not work, and the company has to liquidate.

CalumetPhoto, founded in 1939 grew to almost 3 dozen stores nationwide, and, in recent years, most notably acquired the Penn Camera camera stores in 2012 in the Washington DC region after they had gone into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. After shedding 5 of the 8 locations, the remaining 3 were intended to continue to fulfill the various government contracts that Penn Camera had acquired over the years, as a hopeful source of ongoing revenue for the beleaguered company.

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According to court documents (see below) CalumetPhoto lists assets of less than $50k, and estimated liabilities in excess of $1,000,000, and 585 debtors:

All CalumetPhoto stores in the United States are closed, and classes have been cancelled and their @calumetphoto twitter account is now non-existent, yet there were posts on their Facebook account up until mid-day Wednesday. The overseas CalumetPhoto stores in the EU remain operational. According to Seng Ng, the Director of Finance for CalumetPhoto U.K., when asked how this will affect the UK store, responded "not at all" continuing "we share the same name but are two distinct entities." Their website remains operational and stores there are open.

Late in the day Wednesday, visitors to the website found it non-operational, as below:

Reports from current and former employees and individual store management have reportedly been detailing the trials and tribulations of their times at CalumetPhoto and the state of the company has reportedly not been well.

The PDF of the court filing can be viewed here, as a PDF.


Update: At about 10:30am Eastern time, CalumetPhoto posted this on their Facebook page:

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Anonymous said...

The court documents you have linked and are pulling the asset/liability information from is only for, LLC. You're not including the affiliated companies assets/liabilities.

From the Chicago Tribune: "In its Chapter 7 filing, it listed between $50 million and $100 million in assets and $10 million to $50 million in liabilities.",0,868130.story

Unknown said...

I was an employee of Calumet Photgraphic for over 28 years. I worked at every level of the company short of the front office. I was let go a year ago along with most of people who had a title next to their name on the Org. chart.
The demise of Calumet was due to the ignorance of the owners and the new people they brought in. With no knowledge of the industry their mistakes were compounding, dumping money into poor quality own brand product and expanding into areas the company had intentionally avoided. This did not have to happen.

FillFlog said...

Where did you obtain those liability and asset numbers?

John Harrington said...

Thank you for the clarification on the asset numbers - I got them from the court documents that are in the PDF that was attached. I am sure that the figures reported by the Chicago Tribune are much more encompassing than the numbers we reported, so thank you for the clarification.

-- John

Ryle Irwin said...

So, during my quest to reenter the field of photography after more 20 years, I had picked up a few lenses for my Nikon D7000 before I really knew what I wanted. After some time, I had collected a few lenses I just wasn't using and wasn't going to use. So, I took them to Calumet photo in Tysons Corner. I left deciding to keep one lens and try to sell it on eBay with two lenses SOLD - or at least I thought. It had been a few weeks and I realized I had no received a check from Chicago, so I call the store and nobody answers for days. It was then that I got a sick feeling and realized the news I had failed to hear - Calumet had closed their doors. Yep, closed their doors and stole my lenses. I'll never see the money, but I have asked the attorney handling the bankruptcy if I could possibly get my lenses back. Oddly, if Calumet has actually sold the lenses, then they have technically sold stolen property since I was never paid for them. Oh well, others are in worse shape. What about the people who took their gear in for cleaning or repairs and now their gear is locked up tight in a store where nobody has the key? What a pathetic way to shut down a business.

Talbert Fitness said...

I live in the Washington DC area and was a customer of Penn Camera. It was sad to see Penn file for Chapter 11 but was happy to see Calumet buy them until I went into the Calumet store. I went in there a few months ago and I noticed a few things as others commenters have. All the products they had in store accessory wise was store branded and even that the supply was meager. I went in for some lens cleaner and some other small items and walked out empty handed. Why would you bring in someone who ran Ritz camera into the ground to head your company? Would different management have made a different, who knows. But reading an interview from a former Calumet employee on another site, about how they did not stock supplies, expected people to special order them, why would they? They could go to Amazon or BHPhoto or Adorama? You go into a local camera store to support the local economy and get products right away.

I feel bad for the employees who got caught in this. You know the owners are still driving their expensive cars, going home to the big McMansions, they protect themselves while screwing the people who without, there would be no business.

drielim said...

With the latest news that C&A has acquired the Calumet brand, I am interested to see what they do with it. Hopefully they bring back the old stores and services but we will have to see. I do know that this is a good move for C&A to expand their reach and market.

Unknown said...

After shedding 5 of the 8 locations, the remaining 3 were intended to continue to fulfill the various government contracts that Penn Camera had acquired over the years, as a hopeful source of ongoing revenue for the beleaguered company.

Marc Goldbach said...

After 75 years on business, LLC has voluntarily filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. We cannot blame them for filling a bankruptcy. The technology are continuing to innovate and I guess they cannot adjust to the new changes.

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