Struggling US consumer electronics chain RadioShack filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday, pulling the plug after failing to compete with big-box stores and online retailers.
The storied 94-year-old company, which sold the first mass-market personal computer, said it had filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors in court in Wilmington, Delaware.
As part of the bankruptcy deal, RadioShack will sell up to 2,400 company-owned stores in the United States to General Wireless, a subsidiary of Standard General, which is RadioShack's largest shareholder.
The plan calls for General Wireless to team up with Sprint, the number-three US wireless operator, to establish co-branded stores that will exclusively sell Sprint mobile devices and RadioShack products and services.
Not included in the Chapter 11 filing or the store sale, RadioShack said, are more than 1,000 dealer franchise stores in 25 countries, stores operated by its Mexican subsidiary, and its Asia operations.
RadioShack, which sold the first mass-market personal computer, the TRS-80, in 1977, currently has about 4,000 company-owned stores in the US.
The company said its was in discussions to sell all of its remaining assets.
"These steps are the culmination of a thorough process intended to drive maximum value for our stakeholders," said Joe Magnacca, RadioShack's chief executive, in a statement.
Launched as a leather shoe parts store in Texas in 1919, the business shifted two years later to ship radios and "ham" radios in the first "Radio Shack" in 1921. The Boston store was named for the small wooden structure onboard ships that housed radio equipment.
Through the years, Radio Shack shed its leather operations, was renamed Tandy Corp and became the go-to place for computers and technology. In 2000 it changed its name to RadioShack Corp.
Despite recent sharp cost-cutting to fight growing losses, the company could not compete with the big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Target, and online giants such as Amazon.