Toys R Us has become one of many cautionary tales with regards to physical stores gradually losing out to online marketplaces over the course of the 2010s decade. Try as they might, the once-massively popular toy store chain was no longer cutting it against the likes of Amazon and such. Come 2017 they filed for bankruptcy, and their once-numerous branches across the US, Canada, Europe and Australia have closed down. A 2018 restructuring led to the company’s reemergence as TRU Kids Inc., with the cautious reopening of two retail stores in the US. Unfortunately the 2020 COVID pandemic dashed any hopes of a gradual recovery.
But if at first one does not succeed, they just try again. This seems to be the story of Toys R Us according to CNBC News now that the beleaguered company has fallen under new ownership. That would be the brand management company WHP Global, which acquired a controlling interest in the parent company TRU Kids as of Monday, March 15. This was primarily facilitated by Yehuda Schmidman, vice chairman of TRU Kids who also happens to be the chairman and CEO of WHP Global.
“We’re coming off a year where toys are just on fire,” says Schmidman with regards to their acquisition of TRU Kids. “And for Toys R Us, the U.S. is really a blank canvas.” He also noted that despite being marginalized by online shopping, there is still nostalgic support for Toys R Us as a credited and trusted toy brand not only stateside, but worldwide. With WHP managing TRU Kids and its constituent brands Toys R Us, Babies R Us and Geoffrey the Giraffe, the company could perhaps definitively recover from its post-bankruptcy restructuring and the pandemic, ready to expand globally and within the US anew.
While specific details of WHP’s acquisition of TRU Kids have not been disclosed, the former does have a hefty $350 million equity commitment that was funded by Oaktree Capital Management. Optimally, as increased vaccination begins to push the world past worrying over COVID, WHP Global means to open Toys R Us stores in North America one more time, preferably ahead of the 2021 Holidays. They have yet to determine how many they could reasonably reopen.
Image courtesy of Yahoo Finance