Radio Shack Comes to Courts Amidst Bankruptcy Filing

On April 23 (2017)  Courts Barbados became the site of the 3rd Radio Shack store in the Caribbean.  However, Radio Shack, well known for its specialization in consumer electronics, is currently in bankruptcy court in the US, the second time in two years.  So has Courts touched the accursed thing?

Radio Shack has been around since World War I. According to Wikipedia, the company was started as “Radio Shack” in 1921 by two brothers whose aim was to  provide equipment for the new field of amateur radio (a.k.a ham radio). From the very beginning, Radio Shack appeared to have been branded (no pun intended)  for financial mishaps.

In 1963, Charles Tandy bought the near bankrupt Radio Shack for the equivalent of $300,000 cash and proceeded to turn it into one of the great success stories of American retailing (Radio Shack Catalogues online) . Since that take over, Radio Shack grew is business to more than 7,300 stores and operating income to $4.8 billion.

Throughout its long history, the success of Radio Shack has ebbed and flowed.  Much of its successes  occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s when there was phenomenal  growth in the electronics field.  At one time, it even led IBM and Apple in the production of computers with the Tandy range of personal computers and earned the title of the “McDonalds of Electronics”.

Many of the periodic failures of Radio Shack can be traced back to “poor operating practices, coupled with a disastrous credit offering to its customers”(Radio Shack Catalogues online) and poor strategizing (See: History of Misses for Radio Shack).  Since 2014, despite its leadership in the electronic communications, Radio Shack has found itself  once again in financial trouble and in March this year, the company filed for bankruptcy protection, the second time in as many years (Wall Street Journal).

Why then has Courts become involved with Radio Shack? The answer lies in three strategic marketing concepts: strategy – in this case, the strategy of Courts owners, Unicomer Limited, a south American conglomerate headquartered in San Salvador, the power of  brand equity and franchising.

According to the company’s website (, Unicomer initially acquired a Radio Shack franchise in El Salvador in January 1998. The brand’s expansion outside of San Salvador began in 2002 when it expanded into Honduras in 2002. In 2015 Unicomer acquired the Radio Shack franchise and brand rights  for South America, Central America and the Caribbean. In all, as reported by CEO Pat Tannis at the opening in Barbados, the group now owns sixty-six stores across South and Central America and the Caribbean, making it one of the “largest independent owners of Radio Shack stores in the world”.  Trinidad and Tobago, followed by Jamaica and now Barbados (2017) represent the three Radio Shack-Unicomer entries in the Caribbean.

So then, the fallout from the proceedings in the USA bankruptcy court should not affect Courts in the Caribbean since the Radio Shack brand in the region is an acquired asset and one which Unicomer has managed very well, having won such accolades as Diamond Excellence Award, Platinum Plus Award, Best Radio Shack Store Growth Award and Best Advertising Program since becoming a franchisee.

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