|Predecessor||Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company|
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Founders||Theodore and Milton Deutschmann|
|Headquarters||Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.|
Number of locations
|United States, Mexico|
|Dene Rogers (CEO)|
|Revenue||US$ 4 billion (2016)|
Number of employees
General Wireless Operations Inc. (doing business as RadioShack) is an American chain of wireless and electronics stores, founded in 1921 and since 2015 owned by the Standard General affiliate General Wireless. It is partnered with Sprint, and most stores are co-branded as "Sprint at RadioShack" though also selling RadioShack brand items.
At its peak in 1999 it operated stores in the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. On February 5, 2015, the company filed for Chapter 11 protection under United States bankruptcy law after 11 consecutive quarterly losses. By then it was operating only in the United States and Mexico. On March 31, 2015, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas approved a $160 million offer by General Wireless, which gained ownership of the "RadioShack" brand and its remaining locations; it filed for bankruptcy in March 2017 after claiming its Sprint partnership was not as profitable as expected.
- 1 History
- 2 Financial decline
- 3 Corporate headquarters
- 4 International operations
- 5 Other operations
- 6 Lawsuits and litigation
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The first 40 years
The company was started as "Radio Shack" in 1921 by two brothers, Theodore and Milton Deutschmann, who wanted to provide equipment for the then-nascent field of amateur, or ham radio. The brothers opened a one-store retail and mail-order operation in the heart of downtown Boston at 46 Brattle Street. They chose the name "Radio Shack", which was the term for a small, wooden structure that housed a ship's radio equipment. The Deutschmanns thought the name was appropriate for a store that would supply the needs of radio officers aboard ships, as well as hams (amateur radio operators). The term was already in use — and is to this day — by hams when referring to the location of their stations.
The company issued its first catalog in 1939 as it entered the high fidelity music market. In 1954, Radio Shack began selling its own private-label products under the brand name Realist, changing the brand name to Realistic after being sued by Stereo Realist. After expanding to nine stores plus an extensive mail-order business, the company fell on hard times in the 1960s. Radio Shack was essentially bankrupt, but Charles D. Tandy saw the potential of Radio Shack and retail consumer electronics and bought the company for $300,000.
The Tandy Corporation, a leather goods corporation, was looking for other hobbyist-related businesses into which it could expand. At the time of the Tandy Radio Shack & Leather 1962 acquisition, the Radio Shack chain was nearly bankrupt; it sold $14 million worth of AM and FM radios, ham radio gear, walkie-talkies, speakers and antennas annually but was spending more money than it was taking in.
Tandy closed Radio Shack's unprofitable mail-order business, ended credit purchases and eliminated many top management positions, keeping the salespeople, merchandisers and advertisers. The number of items carried was cut from 40,000 to 2,500, as Tandy sought to "identify the 20% that represents 80% of the sales" and replace Radio Shack's handful of large stores with many "little holes in the wall", large numbers of rented locations which were easier to close and re-open elsewhere if one location didn't work out. Private-label brands from lower-cost manufacturers displaced name brands to raise Radio Shack profit margins; non-electronic lines from go-carts to musical instruments were abandoned entirely.
Customer data from the former Radio Shack mail-order business determined where Tandy would locate new stores. As an incentive for them to work long hours and remain profitable, store managers were required to take an ownership stake in their stores. In markets too small to support a company-owned Radio Shack store, the chain relied on independent dealers who carried the products as a sideline.
Charles D. Tandy, who had guided the firm through a period of growth in the 1960s and 1970s, died of a heart attack at age 60 in November 1978.
In 1982, the breakup of the Bell System encouraged subscribers to own their own telephone extensions instead of renting them from local phone companies; Radio Shack offered twenty models of home phone.
In 1992, Tandy attempted to launch big-box electronics retailer Incredible Universe; most of the seventeen stores never turned a profit. Its six profitable stores were sold to Fry's Electronics in 1996; the others were closed. Other rebranding attempts included the launch or acquisition of chains including McDuff, Video Concepts and the Edge in Electronics; these were larger stores which carried TVs, appliances and other lines.
Tandy closed the McDuff stores and abandoned Incredible Universe in 1996, but continued to add new RadioShack stores. By 1996, industrial parts suppliers were deploying e-commerce to sell a wide range of components online; it would be another decade before RadioShack would sell parts from its website, with a selection so limited that it was no rival to established industrial vendors with million-item specialised, centralised inventories.
In 1994, the company introduced a service known as "The Repair Shop at Radio Shack", through which it provided inexpensive out-of-warranty repairs for more than 45 different brands of electronic equipment. The company already had over one million parts in its extensive parts warehouses and 128 service centers throughout the US and Canada; it hoped to leverage these to build customer relationships and increase store traffic. Len Roberts, president of the Radio Shack division since 1993, estimated that the new repair business could generate $500 million per year by 1999.
"America's technology store" was abandoned for the "you've got questions, we've got answers" slogan in 1994. In early summer 1995, the company launched a new logo; "Radio Shack" was spelled in CamelCase as "RadioShack". In 1996, RadioShack successfully petitioned the US Federal Communications Commission to allocate frequencies for the Family Radio Service, a short-range walkie-talkie system which proved popular.
Battery of the Month
From the 1960s until the early 1990s, Radio Shack promoted a "battery of the month" club; a free wallet-sized cardboard card offered one free Enercell a month in-store. Like the free tube testing offered in-store in the early 1970s, this small loss leader drew foot traffic. The cards also served as generic business cards for the salespeople.
In 1970, Tandy Corporation bought Allied Radio (both retail and industrial divisions), merging the brands into Allied Radio Shack and closing duplicate locations. After a 1973 federal government review, the company sold off the few remaining Allied retail stores and resumed using the Radio Shack name. Allied Electronics, the firm's industrial component operation, continued as a Tandy division until it was sold to Spartan Manufacturing in 1981.
In the 1970s, the chain expanded into the UK under the Tandy name; Tandy entered the Australian market in 1973. The international expansion operated through a subsidiary (spun off as InterTAN in June 1986) which operated Tandy or Radio Shack stores until 1999 (UK), 2001 (Australia) and 2004 (Canada).
The longest-running product for Radio Shack was the Realistic Flavoradio, sold from 1972 to 1986, 15 years in the same design. This also made the Flavoradio the longest run in radio history. Originally released in 6 colors or flavors, strawberry, orange, lemon, avocado, blueberry and grape, the line grew to eleven flavors. They were made in Korea, Hong Kong and the Philippines. When the Flavoradio name was dropped in 2001, it was the last AM-only radio on the market.
In 1977, two years after the MITS Altair 8800, Radio Shack introduced the TRS-80, one of the first mass-produced personal computers. This was a complete pre-assembled system at a time when many microcomputers were built from kits, backed by a nationwide retail chain when computer stores were in their infancy. Sales of the initial, primitive $600 TRS-80 exceeded all expectations despite its limited capabilities. This was followed by the TRS-80 Color Computer in 1980, designed to attach to a television. Tandy also inspired the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids (1982-1991), a comic-book duo of teen calculator enthusiasts who teamed up with the likes of Archie and Superman. Radio Shack's computer stores offered lessons to pre-teens as "Radio Shack Computer Camp" in the early 1980s.
In the mid-1980s, Radio Shack began a transition from its proprietary 8-bit computers to its proprietary IBM PC compatible Tandy computers, removing the "Radio Shack" name from the product in an attempt to shake off the long-running nicknames "Radio Scrap" and "Trash 80" to make the product appeal to business users. Poor compatibility, shrinking margins and a lack of economies of scale led Radio Shack to exit the computer-manufacturing market in the 1990s after losing much of the desktop PC market to newer, price-competitive rivals like Dell. Tandy acquired the Computer City chain in 1991, and sold the stores to CompUSA in 1998.
Much of the Radio Shack line was manufactured in the company's own factories. By 1990/1991, Tandy was the world's biggest manufacturer of personal computers as its OEM manufacturing capacity was building hardware for Digital Equipment Corporation, GRiD, Olivetti, AST Computer, Panasonic, and others. The company manufactured everything from store fixtures to computer software to wire and cable, TV antennas, audio and video tape. At one point, Radio Shack was the world's largest electronics chain.
In June 1991, Tandy closed or restructured its 200 Radio Shack Computer Centers, acquired Computer City, and attempted to shift its emphasis away from components and cables, toward mainstream consumer electronics. Tandy sold its computer manufacturing to AST Research in 1993, including the laptop computer Grid Systems Corporation which it had purchased in 1988. It sold the Memorex consumer recording trademarks to a Hong Kong firm, and divested most of its manufacturing divisions. House-brand products, which Radio Shack had long marked up heavily, were replaced with third-party brands already readily available from competitors. This increased merchandise costs for the chain, while limiting ability to inflate prices at the retail level.
In 1998, and with a seeming bit of nostalgia for the days when Tandy manufactured computers, RadioShack and Compaq launched ‘The Creative Learning Center’ as a store-within-a-store to promote desktop PCs. Similar promotions were tried with ‘The Sprint Store at RadioShack’ (mobile telephones) and ‘PowerZone’ (RadioShack's line of battery products). AutoZone, a company which had been forced to change its name from "Auto Shack" due to a 1982 trademark infringement lawsuit by Radio Shack, claimed there was a "likelihood of confusion" between POWERZONE and AUTOZONE in a lawsuit against Tandy Corporation; the suit was unsuccessful.
In the mid-1990s, the company attempted to move out of small components and into more mainstream consumer markets, focusing on marketing wireless phones. This placed the chain, long accustomed to charging wide margins on specialised products not readily available from other local retailers, into direct competition with larger vendors such as Best Buy and Walmart.
In May 2000, the company dropped the Tandy name altogether, becoming RadioShack Corporation. The leather operating assets were sold to The Leather Factory on November 30, 2000; that business remains profitable.
House brands Realistic and Optimus were discontinued. In 1999 the company agreed to carry RCA products in a five-year agreement for a "RCA Digital Entertainment Center" store-within-a-store. When the RCA contract ended, RadioShack introduced its own Presidian and Accurian brands, reviving the Optimus brand in 2005 for some low-end products. Enercell, a house brand for dry cell batteries, remained in use until approximately 2014.
Most of the RadioShack house brands had been dropped when Tandy divested its manufacturing facilities in the early 1990s; the original list included: Realistic (stereo, hi-fi and radio), Archer (antenna rotors and boosters), Micronta (test equipment), Tandy (computers), TRS-80 (proprietary computer), ScienceFair (kits), DuoFone (landline telephony), Concertmate (music synthesizer), Enercell (cells and batteries), Road Patrol (radar detectors, bicycle radios), Patrolman (Realistic radio scanner), Deskmate (software), KitchenMate, Stereo Shack, Mach One, Supertape (recording tape), Optimus (speakers and turntables), Flavoradio (pocket AM radios in various colours), Weatheradio, Portavision (small televisions) and Minimus (speakers).
In 2000, RadioShack was one of multiple backers of the CueCat barcode reader, a marketing failure. It had invested $35 million in the company, included the barcodes in its catalogues and distributed CueCat devices to customers at no charge. The last annual RadioShack printed catalogues were distributed to the public in 2003. Future journalist Jon Bois, who worked for Radio Shack in this period, described trying to understand the company's strategy as 'like retracing the steps and doings of a drunk person: okay, here's where he keyed the cop car. Wait, why'd he do that? I don't know, but his pants are lying here, so this is before he stripped naked and tried to rob the library".
Until 2004, RadioShack routinely asked for the name and address of purchasers so they could be added to mailing lists. Name and mailing address is still requested for special orders (RadioShack Unlimited parts and accessories, Direc2U items not stocked locally), returns, check payments, RadioShack Answers Plus credit card applications, service plan purchases and carrier activations of cellular telephones.
On December 20, 2005, RadioShack announced the sale of its newly built riverfront Fort Worth headquarters building to German-based KanAm Grund; the property was leased back to RadioShack for 20 years. In 2008, RadioShack assigned this lease to the Tarrant County College District (TCC), remaining in 400,000 square feet of the space as its headquarters.
In 2005, RadioShack parted with Verizon for a 10-year agreement with Cingular and an 11-year agreement with Sprint. In July 2011, RadioShack ended its wireless partnership with T-Mobile, replacing it with the "Verizon Wireless Store" within a store.
RadioShack had not made products under the Realistic name since the early 1990s. Support for many of Radio Shack's traditional product lines, including amateur radio, had ended by 2006. A handful of small-town franchise dealers used their ability to carry non-RadioShack merchandise to bring in parts from outside sources, but these represented a minority.
PointMobl and "The Shack"
In mid-December 2008, RadioShack opened three concept stores under the name "PointMobl" to sell wireless phones and service, netbooks, iPod and GPS navigation devices. The three Texas stores (Dallas, Highland Village and Allen) were furnished with white fixtures like those in the remodelled wireless departments of individual RadioShack stores, but there was no communicated relationship to RadioShack itself. Had the test proved successful, RadioShack could have moved to convert existing RadioShack locations into PointMobl stores in certain markets.
While some PointMobl products, such as car power adapters and phone cases, were (and still are) carried as store-brand products in RadioShack stores, the stand-alone PointMobl stores were closed and the concept abandoned in March 2011.
RadioShack has expanded to sell no-contract and contract phones for AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, as well as no-contract handsets for Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Net10, TracFone and Verizon prepaid.
In November 2012, RadioShack introduced Amazon Locker parcel pick-up services at its stores, only to dump the program in September 2013. In 2013 the chain made token attempts to regain the do it yourself market, including a new "Do It Together" slogan.
Long-time staff observed a slow and gradual shift away from electronic parts and customer service and toward promotion of wireless sales and add-ons; the pressure to sell gradually increased, while the focus on training and product knowledge decreased. Morale was abysmal; longtime employees who were paid bonus and retirement in stock options saw the value of these instruments fade away.
In 1998, RadioShack called itself the single largest seller of consumer telecommunications products in the world; its stock reached its peak a year later.
InterTAN, a former Tandy subsidiary, sold the Tandy UK stores in 1999 and the Australian stores in 2001. InterTAN was sold (with its Canadian stores) to rival Circuit City in 2004. The RadioShack brand remained in use in the United States, but the 21st century proved a period of long decline for the chain, which was slow to respond to key trends—ranging from e-commerce and the entry of competitors like Best Buy and Amazon.com to the resurgence of the maker movement.
By 2011, smartphone sales, rather than general electronics, accounted for half of the chain's revenue. The traditional Radio Shack clientele of do-it-yourself tinkerers were increasingly sidelined. Electronic parts formerly stocked in stores were now mostly only available through on-line special order. Store employees concentrated efforts selling profitable mobile contracts, while other customers seeking assistance were neglected and left the stores in frustration.
2004: "Fix 1500" initiative
In early 2004, RadioShack introduced Fix 1500, a sweeping program to "correct" inventory and profitability issues company-wide. The program put the 1,500 lowest-graded store managers, of over 5,000, on notice of the need to improve. Managers were graded not on tangible store and personnel data but on one-on-one interviews with district management.
Typically, a 90-day period was given for the manager to improve (thus causing another manager to then be selected for Fix 1500). A total of 1,734 store managers were reassigned as sales associates or terminated in a 6-month period. Also, during this period, RadioShack cancelled the employee stock purchase plan. By the first quarter of 2005, the metrics of skill assessment used during Fix 1500 had already been discarded, and the corporate officer who created the program had resigned.
In 2004, RadioShack was the target of a class-action lawsuit in which more than 3,300 current or former RadioShack managers alleged the company required them to work long hours without overtime pay. In an attempt to suppress the news, the company launched a successful strategic lawsuit against public participation against Bradley D. Jones, the webmaster of RadioShackSucks.com and a former RadioShack dealer for 17 years.
2006: Management issues
In 2005, a switch in featured wireless providers caused a 62 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings due to an inventory write-down, sending the company's shares to an almost three-year low.
On February 20, 2006, CEO David Edmondson admitted to "misstatements" on his curriculum vitae and resigned after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram debunked his claim to degrees in theology and psychology from Heartland Baptist Bible College.
Chief operating officer Claire Babrowski briefly took over as CEO and president. A 31-year veteran of McDonald's Corporation, where she had been vice president and Chief Restaurant Operations Officer, Babrowski had joined RadioShack several months prior. She left the company in August 2006, later becoming CEO and Executive Vice President of Toys "R" Us.
RadioShack's board of directors appointed Julian C. Day as chairman and chief executive officer on July 7, 2006. Day had financial experience and had played a key role in revitalizing such companies as Safeway, Sears and Kmart but lacked any practical front-line sales experience needed to run a retail company. The Consumerist named him one of the "10 Crappiest CEOs" of 2009 (among consumer-facing companies, according to their own employees). He resigned in May 2011.
RadioShack Chief Financial Officer James "Jim" Gooch succeeded Day as CEO in 2011, but "agreed to step down" 16 months later following a 73% plunge in the price of the stock. On February 11, 2013, RadioShack Corp. hired Joseph C. Magnacca from Walgreens, because he had experience in retail.
2006: Corporate layoffs and new strategy
In the spring of 2006, RadioShack announced a strategy to increase average unit volume, lower overhead costs, and grow profitable square footage. In early to mid-2006, RadioShack closed nearly 500 locations. It was determined that some stores were too close to each other, causing them to compete with one another for the same customers. Most of the stores closed in 2006 brought in less than $350,000 in revenue each year.
Despite these actions, stock prices plummeted within what was otherwise a booming market. On August 10, 2006, RadioShack announced plans to eliminate a fifth of its company headquarters workforce to reduce overhead expense, improving its long-term competitive position while supporting a significantly smaller number of stores. On Tuesday, August 29, the affected workers received an e-mail: "The work force reduction notification is currently in progress. Unfortunately your position is one that has been eliminated." Four hundred and three workers were given 30 minutes to collect their personal effects, say their goodbyes to co-workers and then attend a meeting with their senior supervisors. Instead of issuing severance payments immediately, the company withheld them to ensure that company-issued BlackBerrys, laptops and cellphones were returned.
This move drew immediate widespread public criticism for its lack of sensitivity. In an April 23, 2007 satirical piece, The Onion claimed the company's own CEO still has "no idea" how the home electronics store manages to stay open, as "There must be some sort of business model that enables this company to make money, but I'll be damned if I know what it is. You wouldn't think that people still buy enough strobe lights and extension cords to support an entire nationwide chain, but I guess they must, or I wouldn't have this desk to sit behind all day."
2009: Customer relations problems
RadioShack and the Better Business Bureau of Fort Worth, Texas met on April 23, 2009 to discuss unanswered and unresolved complaints. The company implemented a plan of action to address existing and future customer service issues. Stores were directed to post a sign with the District Manager's name, the question "How Are We Doing?" and a direct toll-free number to the individual district office for their area. RadioShackHelp.com was created as another portal for customers to resolve their issues through the Internet. As of 2012, the BBB had upgraded RadioShack from an "F" to an "A" rating; this was changed to "no rating" after the 2015 bankruptcy filing.
As of 2016, according to Temkin Experience Ratings, RadioShack is listed as the retailer with the worst overall customer experience, a rank it has held for six consecutive years.
2012–2014: Financial distress
From 2000 to 2011, RadioShack spent $2.6 billion repurchasing its own stock in an attempt to prop up a share price which fell from $24.33 to $2.53; the buyback and the stock dividend were suspended in 2012 to conserve cash and reduce debt as the company continued to lose money.
Same-store sales for the first quarter of 2012 were down 4.2 percent from a year earlier, with consumer electronics sales down 24.1 percent. The stock had declined 81 percent since 2010 and was trading well below book value. In April 2012, after this very poor first quarter, Moody's reduced its ratings on RadioShack to "junk" status. The stock reached an all-time low on April 14, 2012, only to sink further on July 11, 2013 on rumours of impending bankruptcy.
In September 2012, RadioShack's head office laid off an additional 130 workers after a $21 million quarterly loss. Layoffs continued in August 2013; headquarters employment dropped from more than 2,000 before the 2006 layoffs to slightly fewer than 1,000 in late 2013. At the end of 2013, the chain owned 4,297 US stores. An additional 900 stores remain in the hands of independent dealers; in their heyday, Radio Shack's store-within-a-store was franchised to 2500 small-town local independent retailers where it represented over 10 percent of the chain's revenue.
The company had received a US$250,000,000 cash infusion in 2013 from Salus Capital Partners and Cerberus Capital Management. This debt carried onerous conditions, preventing RadioShack from gaining control over costs by limiting store closures to 200 per year and restricting the company's refinancing efforts. With too many underperforming stores remaining open, the chain continued to spiral toward bankruptcy.
A February 2, 2014 Super Bowl commercial with the tagline "The ’80s called, they want their store back" depicted 1980s idols Kid ‘n Play, Mary Lou Retton, the California Raisins, Erik Estrada and Alf loading a dated RadioShack store's entire boombox, fax and VCR inventory onto the roof of a 1981 deLorean DMC-12 and driving away.
On March 4, 2014, the company announced a net trading loss for 2013 of $400.2 million, well above the 2012 loss of $139.4 million, and proposed a restructuring which would close 1,100 lower-performing stores, almost 20% of its US locations.
On May 9, the company reported that creditors had prevented it from carrying out those closures, despite many markets being so saturated with stores that the chain was effectively competing against itself. All secured lenders needed to approve the plan and Salus (a division of Harbinger Group) had refused, presuming fewer stores would mean fewer assets to secure the loan, reducing any recovery it would get in a bankruptcy reorganization.
Six days later, the Fitch credit rating agency downgraded RadioShack to "CC", two notches away from default, saying Fitch was "increasingly concerned about RadioShack's ability to operate beyond 2014," and warning of a "restructuring before year-end or early 2015."
On June 10, 2014, RadioShack said that it had enough cash to last 12 months, but that lasting a year depended on sales growing. Sales had fallen for nine straight quarters, and by year's end the company had realized a loss in "each of its 10 latest quarters". Six days later, Standard & Poor's downgraded RadioShack's credit rating to "CCC", warning that the company would have "very small amounts of liquidity early next year, which could lead to a liquidity crisis and default or the company's decision to seek a financial restructuring."
On June 20, 2014, RadioShack's stock price fell below $1, triggering a July 25 warning from the New York Stock Exchange that it could be delisted for failure to maintain a stock price above $1.
On July 28, 2014, Mergermarket's Debtwire reported RadioShack was discussing Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as an option. The next day, Moody's Investors Service said that under a "best case scenario," RadioShack would run out of liquidity in October 2015, and, under a worst-case scenario, the company wouldn't have enough cash to last through the 2014 holidays.
On September 11, 2014, RadioShack admitted it might have to file for bankruptcy, and would be unable to finance its operations "beyond the very near term" unless the company was sold, restructured, or received a major cash infusion. Standard and Poor said "We believe the company will default or restructure in some form that is tantamount to a default within the next six months." The next day, Fitch downgraded the company to "C", the last rating before default, inferring that "a downgrade to 'C' would signify that Fitch believes that a default at RadioShack is imminent."
On September 15, 2014, RadioShack replaced its CFO with a bankruptcy specialist. On October 3, RadioShack announced an out-of-court restructuring, a 4:1 dilution of shares, and a rights issue priced at 40 cents a share. RadioShack's stock (NYSE: RSH) was halted on the New York exchange for the entire day. Despite the debt restructuring proposal, in December Salus and Cerberus informed RadioShack that it was in default of the US$250,000,000 they had provided as a cash infusion in 2013.
At the end of October 2014, quarterly figures indicated RadioShack was losing $1.1 million per day. A November 2014 attempt to keep the stores open from 8AM to midnight on Thanksgiving Day drew a sharp backlash from employees and a few resignations; comparable store sales for the three days (Thursday-Saturday) were 1% lower than the prior year, when the stores were open for two of the days. The company's problems maintaining inventories of big-ticket items, such as Apple's iPhone 6, further cut into sales.
By December 2014, RadioShack was being sued by former employees for having encouraged them to invest 401(k) retirement savings in company stock, alleging a breach of fiduciary duties to "prudently" handle the retirement fund which caused "devastating losses" in the retirement plans as the stock dropped from $13 in 2011 to 38 cents at the end of 2014. The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating management of the 401(k) plan back to 2011.
2015: First bankruptcy
On January 15, 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported RadioShack had delayed rent payments to some commercial landlords and was preparing a bankruptcy filing that could come as early as February. Officials of the company declined to comment on the report. A separate report by Bloomberg claimed the company might sell leases to as many as half its stores to Sprint.
On February 2, 2015, the company was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange after its average market capitalization remained below $50 million for longer than thirty consecutive days. That same day, Bloomberg News reported RadioShack was in talks to sell half of its stores to Sprint and close the rest, which would effectively render RadioShack no longer a stand-alone retailer. Amazon.com and Brookstone were also mentioned to be potential bidders, the former having at the time been wanting to establish a brick and mortar presence. On February 3, RadioShack defaulted on its loan from Salus Capital.
On the days following these reports, some employees were instructed to reduce prices and transfer inventory out of stores designated for closing to those that would remain open during the presumed upcoming bankruptcy proceedings, while the rest remained "in the dark" as to the company's future. Many stores had already closed abruptly on Sunday, February 1, 2015, the first day of the company's fiscal year, with employees only given a few hours advance notice. Some had been open with a skeleton crew, little inventory and reduced hours only because the Salus Capital loan terms limited the chain to 200 store closures a year. A creditor group alleged the chain had remained on life support instead of shutting down earlier and cutting its losses merely so that Standard General could avoid paying on credit default swaps which expired on December 20, 2014.
|"RadioShack died years ago; we're only now holding the funeral. Good active managers have avoided RadioShack for a long time."|
|- Gershon Distenfeld, Director, AllianceBernstein |
On February 5, 2015, RadioShack announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Using bankruptcy to end contractual restrictions that had required it keep unprofitable stores open, the company immediately published a list of 1784 stores which it intended to close, a process it wished to complete by the month's end to avoid an estimated $7 million in March rent.
On March 31, 2015, the bankruptcy court approved a $160 million offer by the Standard General affiliate General Wireless, gaining ownership of 1,743 RadioShack locations. As part of the deal, the company entered into a partnership with Sprint, in which the company would become a co-tenant at 1,435 RadioShack locations and establish store within a store areas devoted to selling its wireless brands, including Sprint, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. The stores would collect commissions on the sale of Sprint products, and Sprint would assist in promotion. Sprint stated that this arrangement would increase the company's retail footprint by more than double; the company previously had around 1,100 company-owned retail outlets, in comparison to the over 2,000 run by AT&T Mobility. Although they would be treated as a co-tenant, the Sprint branding would be more prominent in promotion and exterior signage than that of RadioShack. The acquisition did not include rights to RadioShack's intellectual property (such as its trademarks), rights to RadioShack's franchised locations, and customer records, which were to be sold separately.
RadioShack was criticized for including customers' personally identifying information as part of its assets for sale during the proceedings, despite its long-standing policy and a promise to customers that data would never be sold for any reason at any time. The Federal Trade Commission and the Attorneys General of several states fought against this motion. The sale of this data was approved, albeit greatly reduced from what was initially proposed.
Customers had initially been given until March 6, 2015 to return merchandise or redeem unused gift cards. However, after legal pressure from the Attorneys General of several states, RadioShack ultimately agreed to reimburse customers for the value of unused gift cards.
Re-branded stores soft launched on April 10, 2015, with a preliminary conversion of the stores' existing wireless departments to exclusively house Sprint brands, with all stores eventually to be renovated in waves to allocate larger spaces for Sprint. In May 2015, the acquisition of the "RadioShack" name and its assets by General Wireless for $26.2 million was finalized. Chief marketing officer Michael Tatelman emphasized that the company that emerged from these proceedings is an entirely new company, and went on to affirm that the old RadioShack did not re-emerge from bankruptcy, calling it "defunct".
Less than one year after the bankruptcy events of 2015, Ron Garriques and Marty Amschler stepped down from their respective chief executive officer and chief financial officer positions; Garriques had held his position for nine months.
2017: Second bankruptcy
It was speculated on March 2, 2017 that General Wireless was preparing to take RadioShack through its second bankruptcy in two years. This was further evidenced when dozens of corporate office employees were laid off and two hundred stores were planned to be shuttered. On March 2, 2017 the RadioShack website began displaying banners stating that all sales are final on in-store purchases at all locations, adding to speculation that the company plans to close all of its company-owned retail stores.
In 2001 RadioShack bought the former Ripley Arnold public housing complex in Downtown Fort Worth for $20 million. The company razed the complex and had a 900,000 square feet (84,000 m2) corporate headquarters campus built after the City of Fort Worth approved a 30-year economic agreement to ensure that the company stayed in Fort Worth. The company sold the campus to Tarrant County College and, as of 2009, had two years left of a rent-free lease in the building. The company intended to make $66.8 million in the deal with the city. By 2009 it had made $4 million, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the company was considering a new site for its headquarters. The Tampa Bay Business Journal reported rumors among Tampa Bay Area real estate brokers and developers that RadioShack might select Tampa as the site of its headquarters. In 2010, however, RadioShack announced efforts to remain at its current site.
Radio Shack originally did business in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, West Germany, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom through a subsidiary, InterTAN (a shortened version of "International Tandy"), which was spun off as a separate company in June 1986. At the end of 1989, there were 1,417 stores operated by InterTAN under the Tandy or Radio Shack names. By 2005 all had been sold, closed or rebranded, severing all ties to Radio Shack.
RadioShack de México and its 274 stores are owned by the US RadioShack Corporation and were not part of the groups of stores divested through InterTAN. As of early 2012, an additional 240 stores were operated by franchisees abroad. This had grown to a thousand stores franchised abroad at the time of the chain's bankruptcy filings. Despite growing losses at home, the chain had established a franchised presence in 2012 in Malaysia and a joint-venture (49%) in mainland China.
InterTAN Australia ran Tandy Electronics stores until 2001 with Woolworths Limited purchasing the stores for A$112.6 million. Woolworths found Tandy Electronics to be in poor condition and had been trying to rejuvenate the business. In February 2009, Woolworths Limited announced that it would be closing all Tandy stores within the next 2 years. By the end of June 2012, all stores had closed. After Woolworths purchased Tandy Electronics, despite owning rival Dick Smith Electronics, both continued to trade as a separate entities.
Tandy stores were introduced in Belgium in the early 1970s, initially using standard Radio Shack promotions such as the Realistic, Archer, Micronta and Optimus proprietary brands, the free Tandy battery card and a publicity campaign where free 5-D cell flashlights were distributed at new Tandy store openings. Many stores closed in the late 1980s or early 1990s; the last 92 Belgian stores closed when InterTAN left Brussels in 1993.
In the last years of operation, Tandy stores stocked increasing quantities of mainstream brands, which made the stores lose a lot of their peculiar character.
InterTAN operated a RadioShack chain from Barrie, Ontario which carried most (but not all) of the US Radio Shack product line. As the UK and Australia stores had been sold in 1999 and 2002 (respectively), these were the last InterTAN-operated Radio Shack locations when Circuit City purchased InterTAN and its 950 Canadian stores (RadioShack, Battery Plus and some Rogers kiosks) for $284 million in 2004. RadioShack branded merchandise accounted for 9.5% of InterTAN's inventory purchases in its 2002-2003 fiscal year, the last complete year before the Circuit City acquisition, and would soon disappear from stores entirely.
RadioShack sued InterTAN one week after the purchase, claiming InterTAN had breached the terms of their agreement by failing to make a $55,000 annual payment in January 2004. On March 24, 2005, a U.S. district court judge ruled in favour of RadioShack, requiring InterTAN stop using the brand name in products, packaging or advertising by June 30, 2005. The Canadian stores were rebranded under the name The Source by Circuit City.
RadioShack then announced its intention to re-enter the Canadian market itself. InterTAN pursued court action to prevent RadioShack from using the trademark in Canada until the former 2010 expiry date of the original licensing agreement.
Of an original plan for 20 to 30 RadioShack stores to open in Canada, just nine company-owned stores and 16 dealer stores were operating by the end of 2005. RadioShack Corporation closed all nine Canadian stores in January 2007 to refocus attention and resources on strengthening its core US business.
In 2012, China’s Cybermart and RadioShack launched a joint venture to operate stores in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. The first of these locations opened in Shanghai in July 2012; Cybermart owns a 51% stake in the venture.
InterTAN formerly operated 210 Tandy stores in France, selling standard RadioShack brands, Realistic, Optimus, and Archer. By July 1993, $7,600,000 of the $17 million InterTAN owed Tandy for merchandise was in default. While the firm recovered, the French and Belgian InterTAN stores were closed in 1993, along with a Brussels headquarters and warehouse.
RadioShack franchised stores in Malaysia operate under management of Berjaya RadioShack Sdn Bhd, 100% owned by Berjaya Corporation. As an independent franchisee, Berjaya intends to operate its stores as usual despite the parent firm's 2015 bankruptcy filing.
InterTAN formerly operated 338 Tandy stores in the United Kingdom; it closed 69 of them in 1998 and sold the rest to Carphone Warehouse in 1999. The UK chain carried a wide selection of name-brand electronics from non-RadioShack sources. In 1989, more than half of the computers sold at Tandy stores in the UK were non-Tandy; Atari, Commodore and Sinclair were all represented.
The name Radio Shack was already taken by an amateur radio shop in London and so Radio Shack's shops in the UK traded under the name Tandy. Tandy's principal rival as an electronics parts retailer in the UK was Maplin Electronics.
RadioShack's supported the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children by providing store presence for the StreetSentz program, a child identification and educational kit offered to families without charge. RadioShack supported United Way of America Charities to assist their Oklahoma and Texas relief efforts after the 2013 Moore tornado. RadioShack's green initiative promotes the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation, which accepts end-of-life rechargeable batteries and wireless phones dropped off in-store to be safely recycled.
Other retailer partnerships
In August 2001, RadioShack opened kiosk-style stores inside Blockbuster outlets, only to abandon the project in February 2002; CEO Len Roberts announced that the stores did not meet expectations.
RadioShack operated wireless kiosks within 417 Sam's Club discount warehouses from 2004 to 2011. The kiosk operations, purchased from Arizona-based Wireless Retail Inc, operated as a subsidiary, SC Kiosks Inc., with employees contracted through RadioShack Corporation. No RadioShack-branded merchandise was sold. The kiosks closed in 2011, costing RadioShack an estimated $10–$15 million in 2011 operating income.
RadioShack then attempted a joint venture with Target to deploy mobile telephone kiosks in 1,490 Target stores by April 2011. In April 2013, RadioShack's partnership with Target ended and the Target Mobile in-store kiosks were turned over to a new partnership with Brightstar and MarketSource.
On September 5, 2012, RadioShack in a partnership with Cricket Wireless, began offering its own branded no-contract wireless services using Cricket and Sprint's nationwide networks. The service was discontinued on August 7, 2014; clients who had already purchased the service from RadioShack continue to receive service from Cricket Wireless.
Cycling team sponsorship
In 2009, the company became the main sponsor of a new cycling team, Team RadioShack, with Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel. RadioShack featured Armstrong in a number of television commercials and advertising campaigns. RadioShack came under fire for having Armstrong as a spokesperson in 2011, when allegations surfaced of the cyclist using performance-enhancing drugs.
Lawsuits and litigation
In June 2011, Marcia Jones and her then 13-year-old daughter Morgan sued Sprint and RadioShack after the teen found the supposedly-new Sprint HTC Evo 4G cell phones the pair purchased at Stonecrest Mall in Lithonia, Georgia contained adult and child pornography uploaded by a previous user.
In 2012 in EEOC v. RadioShack, Civil Action #10-cv-02365, US District Court for the District of Colorado, a Denver jury awarded $674,938 to David Nelson, age 55 (as of 2007), a 25-year RadioShack employee who had been fired in retaliation after complaining about age discrimination by his supervisor. In 2013, a federal jury awarded more than $1 million to 54-year-old longtime Radio Shack store manager Frank Allen, who was fired in 2010 from the 938 Market St, San Francisco store he had managed since 1998, replaced by a 23-year-old because the company wanted someone with "younger ideas."
A 2013 class action judgement in Redman et al. vs RadioShack Corporation found that RadioShack violated privacy requirements imposed by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 between August 24, 2010 and November 21, 2011 by printing the expiration date of clients' credit or debit cards on store receipts.
A July 2014 ruling in Verderame v. RadioShack Corp., 13-02539 in the US District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) found RadioShack owes its store managers a possible $5.8 million for unpaid overtime in the state; similar claims have been made in other US states.
In popular culture
A "Radio Shock" store (owned by the "Dandy Corporation") appeared in the original 1991 release of Space Quest IV, displaced by "Hz. So Good" in later editions due to threats of legal action by Tandy.
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Hey, at least it saved on trees and managers' time. On Tuesday, RadioShack laid off 403 employees, from vice presidents to rank-and-file workers, by sending them notices through e-mail. "It's the first e-mail layoff I've heard of," said Mary Willoughby, an instructor in the human resource development program at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., and an active member of the Society of Human Resource Management. "It's demoralizing. We still have to have that human touch," Willoughby said. As she and many others see it, there's no substitute for personal contact -- even when it comes to giving employees the ax. RadioShack's decision to send layoff notices by e-mail has touched off debate over whether the company's method was ethical and innovative, or cowardly and callous, or perhaps just another milestone in the advent of the electronic office. Many experts were unmoved by the fact that it was a large-scale layoff, and wondered whether the move would spark a trend.
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