Almost two years after departing its Times Square location, Toys 'R' Us on Thursday said it’s plotting a return with the opening this month of a temporary 35,000 square-foot store at 1466 Broadway (at the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway) in New York’s historic Knickerbocker Building, according to a company press release.
The store is primed for the holidays, with three levels that include a play space for children, shop-in-shop concessions and interactive displays. In a nod to the company's former location in the area, a scaled-down animatronic dinosaur will “live” on the second level, the company said.
Toys 'R' Us is offering its click-and-collect services at the location, as well as a layaway service to help families stretch their budgets.
Toys 'R' Us may be looking overseas for growth — last year the company opened 29 U.S. stores and closed 16, as opposed to opening 73 international locations and closing only 17 — but the toy retailer is planting its holiday sales hopes on a return to New York City's Times Square.
"The Times Square holiday shop reunites our brand with an iconic New York destination which we are thrilled about," Chairman & CEO Dave Brandon said in a statement. "More importantly, the store offers customers a host of products tailored to the needs of city dwellers and visitors — all in [the] interest of bringing play to kids and families around the world!"
The closure of its flagship location, however, has hurt sales: Fourth quarter consolidated net sales fell $192 million year over year to $4.66 billion, due mainly to a decline in same-stores sales and U.S. store closures (including Times Square). Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in the quarter declined by $3 million to $571 million, compared to $574 million in the prior year period. Q4 net earnings were $341 million, compared to $276 million in the year-ago period.
The company's challenges stem in part from a weak holiday season last year, in which there was decidedly more competition to contend with. As toy sales surged last year, Macy’s added the category to its off-price Backstage pop-ups, Hudson’s Bay added toys to its holiday merchandise and Kohl’s brought in the popular American Girl doll line for the season. The tough year led the company to take certain cost-cutting measures, including trimming its workforce: In February, Toys 'R' Us laid off some 250 people (between 10% and 15% of its staff) at its Wayne, NJ, headquarters.