RadioShack's long decline ends in bankruptcy

NEW YORK - RadioShack (RSH) is pulling the plug.

The nearly century-old electronics chain said late Thursday it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Fort Worth, Texas, company said Thursday that it will sell up to 2,400 stores. It has more than 4,000 locations around the U.S. The company was also having discussions to sell all of its remaining assets.

RadioShack has endured slumping sales for years. A final blow came earlier this week after the New York Stock Exchange moved to delist the company's battered shares.

The retailer's stock, which now trades over-the-counter, fell to roughly a penny in after-hours trading on Thursday.

RadioShack had warned of a possible bankruptcy in September, but received rescue financing that kept it afloat. Still, its CEO recently cautioned the chain might not be able to find a long-term plan to stay in business.

RadioShack worked hard on its turnaround efforts, hiring Walgreen (WBA) executive Joseph Magnacca as its CEO and former Treasury Department adviser Harry J. Wilson as chief revitalization officer. It also developed relationships with popular brands like Beats Audio and redesigned almost half of its U.S. locations -- some 2,000 stores -- in an effort to entice younger shoppers.

RadioShack said Thursday that it also has more than 1,000 dealer franchise stores in 25 countries, stores operated by its Mexican subsidiary and operations in Asia, which are not included in the Chapter 11 filing.

The company, which has not turned a profit since 2011, still operates nearly 5,500 stores worldwide and employs about 27,500 people, according to its last annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

RadioShack, which opened in 1921 as a vendor of supplies to radio officers on ships, introduced one of the first mass-market personal computers and used to be the go-to stop for consumers' home electronics needs.

In the 1950s, it entered the high-fidelity business, touting a device called the "Audio Comparator," a then-novel switching system that allowed the customer to mix and match components and speakers in the listening room. In 1977, the chain started selling the TRS-80, known affectionately by its users as the "Trash 80," making the RadioShack as important in microcomputers as IBM (IBM) or Apple (AAPL).

But it struggled as shoppers increasingly shifted to making purchases online and growth in its wireless business slowed.

As for the Sprint deal, the wireless carrier would occupy about one-third of the retail space in each RadioShack location. Sprint employees will sell mobile devices and plans on all Sprint brands including Boost and Virgin Mobile. The stores will be co-branded with Sprint being the primary brand on storefronts and in marketing materials.

Sprint currently has more than 1,100 company-owned retail stores, which would more than double if the transaction is approved.

The transaction with Sprint is expected to be finalized in the coming months.