While this subject has been addressed multiple times, I thought it would be useful to share the content of an email newsletter that I received recently from Freestyle Photo, a major online vendor of film. It is a reassuring message from a company which obviously has to keep abreast of what is really happening with film. The text follows:
Freestyle Newsletter - February 2012
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Senior Vice President Merchandising and Product Development
Dear Valued Freestyle Customer,
The recent announcement by Eastman Kodak Company that they have voluntarily applied for Chapter 11 restructuring comes at no surprise. This is a situation that has been brewing for quite some time and we have received many calls and emails from customers voicing their concern over the future of silver-halide, traditional photographic materials. We have never relied too heavily on any single supplier for our future. As opposed to what you are reading in the media, interest in Film, Wet Darkroom and Historical Photographic Processes is not declining. If it were, Freestyle would very quickly be forced to change course, focusing its efforts on other products. The media tends to dwell on the negative, ignoring the details of a situation to deliver quick sound bites that will capture your attention.
Here are some facts to consider:
- Kodak's sales in their film division increased 20% last year, and this division continues to be a profitable segment. They have billions of dollars in assets. Citicorp Group just gave them $950 million to help fund their restructuring efforts which will continue for 18 months.
Sounds like Kodak will be around for a while longer and that Citicorp is pretty sure they are going to get their money back with interest. The film division seems to be doing quite well and may even prosper under new management as a separate entity. Regardless of what happens, Freestyle is prepared to make a sizable investment in product to keep important products available for years to come.
- Kodak film is not the only brand of product Freestyle sells. While Kodak is an important and high volume supplier of ours, in actuality, we do more business individually with Harman Technologies in Ilford Brand B&W Film and Paper, Foma, Fotokemika and Adox brands. These brands are totally committed to continuing manufacturing for the foreseeable future and have absolutely no plans to stop production as sales continue to be quite robust. They have already taken necessary steps to restructure their facilities for long term survival.
- As individual items have been discontinued over the years, folks have adapted to the ever changing product selection and have continued creating their art and means of photographic self expression. While we are to some extent limited by the availability of products it by no means hinders creativity.
Hopefully some of these thoughts will reassure those who are nervous. Know that Freestyle continues to be THE driving force in traditional photographic products and that our commitment is stronger than it has ever been.