Ritz Camera, the largest dedicated camera retailer in the US has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company, which owns over 800 stores across the country, under a series of names, including Wolf Camera, has proposed a restructuring plan that will aim to see the chain continue in some form. As part of this, the company has applied to the bankruptcy court for permission to continue to honor its customer loyalty and rebate schemes.

In an affidavit to the court Marc Weinsweig, appointed as Chief Restructuring Officer and COO as part of the Chapter 11 process, describes his actions as being aimed at 'maintaining the day-to-day operations of the company's business with minimal disruption' in what he characterizes as 'daunting economic times.'

Court papers suggest that Ritz Cameras owes over $40 million to its two largest creditors: Nikon's US subsidiary Nikon Inc. and Canon USA, with a further $8.4 million owed to Fujifilm USA, a subsidiary of which owns around a third of the company. To put the $26.6 million owed to Nikon Inc. into perspective, it would represent somewhere in the region of 20% of Nikon Inc's expected annual operating income.

Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code provides companies with protection from their creditors while they attempt to restructure. However, US retailer Circuit City, which filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2008 announced the closure of all its stores and the liquidation of its assets on January 16th.