RadioShack receives a lifeline
RadioShack’s intellectual property is being kept alive by a single family office, Kensington Capital Holdings, the only entity to register any interest at the electronics retailer’s bankruptcy auction this week, Reuters reports. The firm, which manages the holdings of the family of former Bain managing director Robert Gay, submitted the sole bid of $15 million.
RadioShack owed Kensington $23 million, a loan from the retailer’s previous bankruptcy two years ago, and the firm plans to license back to General Wireless, the company doing business as RadioShack.
General Wireless filed for Chapter 11 protection in March and immediately announced the closure of 200 RadioShack stores. More of its remaining 1,300 have since also shuttered, leaving the brand with 425 independent dealers, an e-commerce site (which has continued to operate) and an undisclosed number of company stores.
Like so many retailers in a so-called "Chapter 22" situation (filing bankruptcy again within a couple of years or less of a previous filing), RadioShack was loaded with debt that hampered any serious effort to turn itself around. When Dene Rogers first took the reins as RadioShack CEO last April, he promised a new business model for the once-iconic tech retailer.
It was a tall order, considering that the brand's golden era, when hardware nerds built their own PCs and stereo systems, is largely over. Yet Rogers touted a new focus on omnichannel retail and e-commerce, expressing hopes the company could capitalize on previous name recognition and dominance in the electronics space.
It just hasn't happened. Rogers has blamed poor performance of mobile sales, especially over recent months, for thwarting the retailer's progress. RadioShack also failed to dent the increasing market dominance of Amazon, which has grabbed massive market share in peripherals and batteries. Amazon accounted for a whopping 90% of the $5.6 billion growth in U.S. consumer electronics in 2015 according to a note from Deutsche Bank analysts last year. Rival Best Buy has mostly held its own in the face of that competition, but continues to struggle with sales. And smaller retailers in the space, including regional player HHGregg (which also filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, shuttering completely), have faltered.
In any case, RadioShack still has a pulse — if a weak one — thanks to the Kensington bid.
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