You have to feel kind of sorry for RadioShack. After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time in two years, the once-ubiquitous electronics chain has fewer than 100 corporate stores. Now the brand has a new owner after only one bidder was interested in buying the brand and its intellectual property.
“People familiar with the matter” told Reuters that the winner was Kensington Capital Holdings, a family office based in Boston that manages the wealth of the Gay family, and has invested in companies including NatureBox, Sticky Fingers, Thrive Market, and the retail chain Marbles after its own bankruptcy.
Kensington bid $15 million for the RadioShack brand and intellectual property, which it will license back to General Wireless, the company formed to rescue RadioShack from its first bankruptcy and preserve jobs. Last time, General Wireless won the auction for the brand name and intellectual property for $26.2 million.
Kensington was one of the lenders to the Shack after that first bankruptcy, and the company owes it $23 million. Owning the brand means that Kensington could start its own zombie RadioShack business by selling products or opening stores, especially if the General Wireless venture eventually fails.
The $15 million also includes RadioShack’s customer database and mailing lists, which auctioneer Hilco Streambank says includes an opt-in list of 1.5 million email addresses collected from customers since the 2015 bankruptcy, and the company’s transaction records for the same period.
RadioShack once had more than 7,000 corporate-owned stores and at least 1,000 franchisees. Now it has fewer than 100 stores, an e-commerce business, and supplies a few hundred dealer-franchisee stores. The company even sold off the contents of its corporate archives, including cool vintage computers and art.
This transaction would bring RadioShack full circle. The company was founded in Boston in 1921 and based there for its first 41 years. Kensington Capital Holdings is based in the Boston suburbs.