Rochester, N.Y. – Kodak is selling its consumer film business, which was once a cash cow.
The company made the announcement last week that it’s selling a number of units to raise cash and focus on its printing strategy.
The film operation is located at Eastman Business Park. Kodak said it does not release volume or sales figures of the consumer film business. A spokesman said he could not give a specific number of workers assigned to the consumer photography unit, as those workers also make motion picture film. Kodak will continue to make motion picture film.
Although film’s dramatic decline was devastating for Kodak, the business is still profitable and Kodak had been managing it for cash. But the patent sale has likely not raised the money Kodak hoped and it needs to sell businesses to get out of bankruptcy.
“They’ve decided we’ll sell the chicken for meat instead of holding onto it to see what we can get for the eggs,” said George Conboy of Brighton Securities. Another way to think of the sale is Kodak is taking the lump sum payment option of a lottery win instead of extending payments over time.
But who would buy a declining business, one that many analysts predict will eventually end?
“It is going away but not right away and as long as there are traditionalists who still use film or young hipsters who want to try it, there will be some market,” said Conboy. “But it will be too small a market to make a difference for Kodak in the near term.”
Conboy said it’s unlikely any buyer would move the operation out of Eastman Business Park because it’s not practical.
Kodak has already gotten out of the camera business.
Gary Thompson, a photographer with Image City Photography Gallery, said film captures light and emotion better than digital.
“I’ve got in my freezer right now approximately two years of film,” Thompson said. “I just hope that whoever happens to buy it will reinstate the particular film that we’re using.”
Lori Horton, artist-in-residence at the Community Darkroom, said there are young people interested in film use.
‘It’s an art form. It’s a way to get your hands dirty without sitting at a computer screen,” she said. “I think film is here forever.”