Toys ‘R Us is under new management, and the once-beloved toy store’s latest owner is planning to re-open retail locations in the U.S.
If, for you, that conjures up a mental image of a dilapidated strip mall, you’re not alone.
A generation ago, Toys ‘R Us was the go-to repository for the contents of a kid’s smashed piggy bank. But the big-box toy store model slumped with the rise of online shopping, and the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2017.
Unable to escape liquidation, the retailer’s intellectual property was then scooped up by private-equity backed Tru Kids, which opened two reimagined mall-based stores in 2019. But two stores don’t make a retail empire, and both were shut down earlier this year amidst poor traffic. Now, all ToysRUs.com product pages redirect to Amazon.
But after taking a controlling interest in Tru Kids, New York-based brand management company WHP Global will try to inch Toys ‘R Us back to retail prominence:
- WHP plans to open Toys ‘R Us stores in North America once again, including several ahead of this year’s holiday season.
- In a past life, Toys ‘R Us was a strip mall anchor, but new retail locations could include pop-ups, airport shops, or mini stores inside other retailers.
Chairman and CEO of WHP, Yehuda Shmidman says “the sky’s the limit.” In line with his confidence, WHP hasn’t yet set a figure for how many stores it plans to open.
Toys ‘R International
It may be the K-Mart of toy stores in the U.S., but Toys ‘R Us has fared better in overseas markets:
- Toys ‘R Us and Babies ‘R Us have over 900 stores in more than 25 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Middle East. Together they generate over $2 billion in annual retail sales.
And WHP now has eyes on strategic expansion for the retailer’s global business.
Said Shmidman in an interview, “We’re in the brand business, and Toys ‘R Us is the single most credible, trusted and beloved toy brand in the world.” On the heels of record sales and profits, a certain maker of colorful bricks might take issue with that claim.