Boat stores close

The Baltimore Sun

Ritz Camera Centers Inc., the largest U.S. camera store chain, has won court permission to liquidate the bankrupt company's Boater's World stores.

Ritz should collect $40 million from going-out-of business sales at the 129 stores, company attorney Irving Walker told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath in a hearing yesterday in Wilmington, Del.

"This sale is in the best interest of the creditors," Walker said.

Beltsville-based Ritz expects to close more than half of its 800 remaining camera stores and reorganize the rest, company attorney Norman Pernick said in an interview. The 91-year-old company, which had sales of almost $1 billion in 2008, listed assets and debt of less than $500 million each in its bankruptcy petition filed last month.

Walrath gave the company permission yesterday to hire store liquidator Gordon Brothers Group LLC to shut down the Boater's World chain, which has seven stores in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Gordon Brothers won an auction for the right to conduct the going-out-of business sales by guaranteeing that Ritz would collect at least 90 percent of the value of the goods sold during the liquidation.

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