April 19, 2019
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A new Toys ‘R’ Us emerges from the wreckage — and it’s looking for partners

Julio Cortez | AP
Julio Cortez | AP
A person walks near the entrance to a Toys R Us store, in Wayne, New Jersey, Jan. 24, 2018. A group of investors is planning a potential comeback for Geoffrey the giraffe and his crew. Investors that control the assets of the company say they now see a better chance of a return on investment by potentially reviving the toy chain, rather than selling it off for parts.

The remnant of Toys “R” Us Inc. is looking for licensing partners to revive the brand in several parts of the world, including in the U.S. by next Christmas.

“That’s certainly our intent, to be in a position where U.S. consumers can engage with Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us again this holiday season,” said Richard Barry, a former Toys “R” Us executive who is now chief executive officer of new entity Tru Kids Inc. “A significant amount of market share has been left on the table.”

Toys “R” Us liquidated its operations in the U.S., U.K., Australia and other regions last year after failing to emerge from bankruptcy. But units in other markets, like Asia, remained in business and they still pay royalties to and buy private-label goods from Tru Kids, essentially a licensor of brands. The remaining parts of the business generated $3 billion in retail sales last year. Tru Kids is now looking for partners to re-establish the company’s brands in markets that liquidated.

The re-emergence of Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us in the markets it left could take many forms, including stand-alone stores, pop-up shops inside other stores or e-commerce, Barry said. The overarching goal is to create stores that mix online, offline and experiences — a target that its predecessor was faulted for falling short on, he said.

The company announced Monday that its partners in Asia and Europe are opening 70 new stores this year, including several in China. The partners already operate about 900 stores and e-commerce businesses globally.

During this past holiday season, Tru Kids sold private-label brands such as Journey Girls at U.S. grocery-store chain Kroger Co., and the company is currently in talks to continue the partnership this year, Barry said.

Tru Kids is owned by funds led by Solus Alternative Asset Management and Angelo, Gordon & Co.

 



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