|Industry||Photographic products and services|
|Fate||US operation purchased by C&A Marketing in bankruptcy auction.
EU operation still active.
|Headquarters||Bahrenfelder Straße 260
22765 Hamburg, Germany
Number of locations
|UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium|
|Christof Bergmann, Managing Director|
|Products||Cameras, video, film, accessories.|
Number of employees
Calumet Photographic, Inc. better known as Calumet Photographic or Calumet Photo and formerly known as Calumet Manufacturing Company is a photographic retail and photofinishing specialty store, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. In 2012, the company owned and operated a chain of 32 locations worldwide. The company had 15 locations in the United States, 8 in the United Kingdom, 6 in Germany, 2 in the Netherlands and 1 in Belgium, with 200 employees and an annual revenue of $10 million.
On March 12, 2014, Calumet Photographic Inc filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. C&A Marketing Inc., the New Jersey-based owners of a number of retail photo brands including Ritz Camera, Wolf Camera, Inkley's, Camera World, and RitzPix, purchased the US-based assets on May 1, 2014 for $4 million.
On May 7, 2014, the company announced that it would reopen its Oak Brook, Illinois, retail store location, and did so on May 11; it served as the anchor for the brand. The final three stores closed in January 2016.
In 1939, Kenneth Becker founded the sporting goods store Calumet Manufacturing Company that sold an occasional camera in Chicago. After several years of manufacturing darkroom equipment, in 1955 the company bought the rights to Kodak's Master View 4x5 camera, enabling Kodak to leave the view camera business. In the 1960s, the company innovated the Caltar large format lens line, the C-2 roll film holder and the nitrogen burst film and print processors.
In 1980, the company transitioned from being a large format proprietary product vendor to being a full-line photographic product supplier. In 1983, the company left the view camera manufacturing business and outsourced production to the Netherlands. In 1989, Calumet made a notable improvement on Polaroid instant film technology. In 1992, the company leased 85,000 square feet (7,900 m2) of office space in Bensenville, Illinois, and relocated its corporate headquarters. The current headquarters are on West Bliss Street in Chicago.
In the 1990s, Calumet acquired the United Kingdom photo retail chain Keith, Johnson and Pelling and as recently as early 2009, the company had 20 locations in Europe. In 2007, the retail location in Bensenville was moved next to the Oakbrook Center shopping mall in Oak Brook, Illinois. In February 2012, the company acquired the three remaining Washington, DC, area Penn Camera locations after a United States bankruptcy court ruling following Penn Camera's elimination of 5 of its 8 locations. In October 2012, the company opened three new locations in Maryland, Florida and Illinois following the bankruptcy and liquidation of Ritz Camera.
Calumet stores hosted free classes, seminars and demonstrations in dedicated spaces.
On March 13, 2014, the following was posted on the company's Facebook page: "After 75 years of business it is with a heavy heart that we announce our immediate closing in the United States (our European stores will continue). It has been a joy to share our passion for photography with you all of these years. We'll miss each other and we'll miss all of our customers. Thank you for everything." At the same time their website and Twitter account also went offline. Shortly after, the same message was posted on the locked doors of the closed stores. According to Crain's Chicago Business, the company filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy after a lender opted not to continue its financing.
In April 2014, some of the principals bid on the inventory, store leases and other assets. On May 2, C&A Marketing Inc. acquired most of the assets and announced plans to reopen both calumetphoto.com and the equipment rental business. Less than one week later, the C&A announced that it would reopen the Oak Brook, Illinois location on May 11.
In January 2016 C&A Marketing closed all remaining Calumet locations.
The 2014 bankruptcy of the US branch had no direct impact on Calumet Photographic’s operations in the UK and mainland Europe, where all stores continue trading as normal.
Following the growth of the camera rental market, Calumet Photographic UK launched a dedicated rental website to feature rental equipment and allow customers to reserve equipment. In 2014, the UK brand won a Gold Retailer award for customer service from Amateur Photographer and What Digital Camera. In January 2015, the brand’s flagship London camera shop in Drummond Street, Euston, was relaunched following a complete refurbishment. March 2015, the Calumet Student Photographer Of The Year award program was launched in partnership with photographic brands including Canon Inc and Manfrotto.
On June 7, 2016, mid-market investment firm Aurelius announced that it had acquired Calumet International Ltd., a holding company comprising both the Calumet Photographic brand and professional lighting producer Bowens Lighting. The firm stated that it intends to expand Calumet Photographic’s physical presence, which, in July 2016, comprised 9 branches in the UK, 6 in Germany, 2 in the Netherlands and 1 in Belgium.
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