Toys “R” Us is changing direction again. It was announced on Monday that brand management company WHP Global had acquired a majority stake in the parent company of the once-proud toy store/GOAT. Majority interests in Babies “R” Us, as well as the Geoffrey the Giraffe brands were also acquired in the same transaction.
“We’re in the brand business, and Toys R Us is the most credible, trusted and beloved toy brand in the world,” WHP Chairman and CEO Yehuda Shmidman said, according to CNBC. “We are coming off a year where the toys are just on fire. … And for Toys R Us, the United States really is a blank canvas.
Since 2019, Shmidman has served as vice president of Tru Kids, which is relevant since it was the company that purchased the intellectual property and trademarks of Toys “R” Us when that chain filed for bankruptcy protection in under Chapter 11 in September 2017. After a difficult holiday period the same year, Toys “R” Us was liquidated and in 2018 all of its stores in the US and UK were closed.
Since then, things have continued to be quite bleak for the company. Two pop-up locations were erected in the United States, but poor traffic, which was reportedly exacerbated by COVID-19, led to the closure of those stores. The retailer also had a new website powered by Target, and now all purchases on its site are redirected to Amazon.
“Restructuring has taken a heavy toll on the company,” Shmidman added. “And then COVID is hopefully once in a century. But now we are going beyond those two things. And the sky is the limit.
Despite ending its run in Britain and the United States, the respective pair of Toys and Babies “R” Us still own more than 900 stores in 25 other countries. Shmidman plans to open stores in North America in time for the holiday season. Plus, while your enduring Toys “R” Us vision of the decade you were a kid might be a department store juggernaut like the one in the image up top, Shmidman says the new version could be rolled out in a variety of formats, including pop-ups, mini-stores at other retailers, airport locations, and then some flagships.
“There are so many malls that won’t exist in the future, so we don’t need to be there,” Shmidman said. “But we might be in malls that have traffic. …So we really have an opportunity to not only capture that experience for the toys that people crave, but to capture where [people] want to shop. It will be very interesting after Covid.
At this point, there are no reports on how many stores we might see open. Financial details were also not disclosed. Either way, share this with the 6-year-old in your life, then get ready to explain what Toys “R” Us is even all about.