Xhibit Corp. (OTC: XBTC), the parent firm of in-flight catalog company SkyMall LLC, has filed for federal bankruptcy court protection in Phoenix, citing a funding crisis and seeking a court-supervised sale of their assets.

SkyMall, whose offerings include pedal laptop desks and automated ball- launchers for dogs, cites a retail marketplace transformed by online merchants as the reason  

The marketer of more than 30,000 products distributed its catalog in airplane seat pockets, putting it in the hands of 650 million air travelers a year, according to the company website.

Idle air travelers could browse for novelty items such as an Ultrasonic Barking Dog Deterrent that looks like a birdhouse, for $49.95, or a replica of a 16th-century Italian globe based on nautical maps that doubles as a bar, for $189.

The company and its affiliates listed as much as $50 million in liabilities and as much as $10 million in assets in Chapter 11 filings in Phoenix Thursday.

“The direct marketing retail industry is crowded, rapidly evolving and intensely competitive,” Chief Financial Officer Scott Wiley said in a court filing. He listed Amazon.com Inc. and EBay Inc. as among competitors with greater resources and more customers.

“With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog,” Wiley said. New technology and the cost of getting the magazine on planes “made the traditional in-flight SkyMall catalog increasingly unattractive to the airlines,” he said.

The business, which works as a distributor without maintaining its own inventories, generated $33.7 million of revenue in 2013, according to court filings.

Skymall has been at the center of several deals dating back to 2001 when Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. acquired it, only to explore a sale four years later. Spire Capital Partners, Greenspun Media Group and ZelnickMedia Corp., which owns the Lillian Vernon catalog, bought it in December 2005.

Please see our most recent Turnaround Tuesday column, and our distressed company watch list for more restructuring coverage.  

Mergers & Acquisitions assistant managing editor Anthony Noto contributed to this story.

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