In the end, Christmas came too late for Circuit City
The consumer electronics superstore chain is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It was inevitable. The company's financial health was dimming, and with that comes the threat of vendors holding back merchandise during the time of year when Circuit City can least afford to run empty. With a new $1.1 billion debtor-in-possession revolving credit line in place, suppliers will be reasonably assured of getting paid for any wares shipped after today's filing.
Shareholders won't be as lucky. They are typically wiped out in Chapter 11 bankruptcies, once creditors and suppliers fight for what's left.
Circuit City tried. It announced massive layoffs last month, as well as plans to close 155 underperforming stores. With more corporate pink slips announced last week, Circuit City will have trimmed 20% of its combined workforce and store base.
The challenge now will be to keep holiday shoppers coming. The stigma of filing for bankruptcy reorganization is huge for a consumer-facing company. Most customers don't know the difference between Chapter 7 liquidation and Chapter 11 reorganization. So it's going to be a hard sell to get customers to snap up holiday gift cards they perceive as going stale or buying big-ticket items that they fear they won't be able to return.
Bad news for Circuit City is good news for everybody else. Healthier industry leader Best Buy
The one company going "whew" right now is Blockbuster
It's going to be a blue Christmas for Circuit City, no matter how red the stores look.
Other ways to see more than just the red in the Circuit City logo:
- When Companies Go Bankrupt
- Jim Cramer Should Run Circuit City
- Circuit City Is a Big Tease
- Act Fast and Kiss Your Returns Goodbye
Creative Corner: How would you save Circuit City? Post your turnaround thoughts in the comment box below.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't go to his local Circuit City store the way he used to. He doesn't own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.