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RadioShack files for bankruptcy protection, to sell stores

Staff and wire reports
RadioShack goes bankrupt, to sell stores

Struggling electronics retailer RadioShack has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy-law protection and says it will sell up to 2,400 stores.

General Wireless, a subsidiary of Standard General, RadioShack's largest shareholder, has agreed to buy 1,500 to 2,400 of the company's U.S. stores. As part of the bankruptcy plan, Sprint may open mini-shops in as many as 1,760 of the acquired RadioShack stores.

Fort Worth, Texas-based RadioShack said Thursday that it has filed a motion to proceed with closing the rest of its 4,000 U.S. stores. It is also having discussions to sell all of its remaining assets.

RadioShack has nearly 100 stores in Maryland, including 38 in the Baltimore region with seven of those in malls, according to the retailer's website.

The retailer filed notice with the state Thursday that it would lay off 87 workers in Hagerstown on March 11 as its closed a distribution warehouse there. Some of the employees might be retained longer, depending on how long it takes to wind down the operation.

RadioShack Corp. introduced one of the first mass-market personal computers and was once the go-to stop for consumers' home electronics needs. But it struggled as shoppers increasingly shifted to making purchases online and growth in its wireless business slowed. It has suffered years of losses.

The New York Stock Exchange suspended trading of its shares Monday and sought to delist it. The NYSE requires companies to meet certain market capitalization thresholds to remain on the exchange, and the retailer has been running out of cash.

RadioShack had warned of a possible bankruptcy in September, but received rescue financing that kept it afloat through the holidays. Still, its CEO recently said the chain might not be able to find a long-term plan to stay in business.

RadioShack worked hard on its turnaround efforts, hiring Walgreen Co. executive Joseph Magnacca as its CEO and former Treasury Department adviser Harry J. Wilson as chief revitalization officer. It also developed relationships with popular brands like Beats Audio and redesigned almost half of its U.S. locations in an effort to entice younger shoppers.

The company, which has not turned a profit since 2011, operates nearly 5,500 stores and employs about 27,500 people worldwide, according to its last annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

RadioShack said Thursday that it also has more than 1,000 dealer franchise stores in 25 countries, stores operated by its Mexican subsidiary, and operations in Asia operations, which are not included in the Chapter 11 filing.

Founded in Boston in 1921, RadioShack started as a distributor of mail-order ship radios, ham radios and parts. In the 1950s, it entered the high-fidelity business, touting a device called the "Audio Comparator," a then-novel switching system that allowed the customer to mix and match components and speakers in the listening room.

In 1977, the chain started selling the TRS-80, known affectionately by its users as the "Trash 80," one of the earliest personal computers.

The Associated Press and Baltimore Sun reporter Lorraine Mirabella contributed to this article.

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