US gadget retailer goes under

Sharper Image files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
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The retailer has cited a liquidity crisis, increased competition and a tightening economy, which produced weak sales for its trouble.

Robert Conway replaces Steven Lightman as CEO and 90 of its 184 stores will be closed, following inventory liquidations.

The firm’s court filings stated: “Sharper Image is in a severe liquidity crisis that is attributable to a host of factors, including among others, increased competition, and deteriorating gross margins, the negative impact of pending litigation and resultant loss of consumer/market confidence, contraction of credit from vendors and suppliers, and maintenance increases in the number of non contributing stores.”

The filing also stated that extra working capital is urgently required in order for the firm to continue and sustain its operations and maximise value.

Sharper Image has struggled with declining sales and profitability for several years as multi-channel competitors have begun offering similar merchandise. In recent years, it has begun relying on sales of its air purification devices and massage chairs as well as increasing the number of toys in its product mix.

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