Toys R Us rises from the dead
Toys R Us, which liquidated last year and closed all its American stores, on Monday emerged as a new company, dubbed Tru Kids Inc. The company will be led by President and CEO Richard Barry, former global chief merchandising officer at Toys R Us, according to a press release.
Management also includes Matthew Finigan as CFO, James Young as executive vice president of Global License Management & General Counsel and Jean-Daniel Gatignol as senior vice president of Global Sourcing & Brands. Yehuda Shmidman, who runs brand advisory firm Wave Hill Partners and is former CEO of brand marketing and licensing firm Sequential Brands, is vice chairman and will advise on global strategy and execution, the company also said.
Tru Kids, like its predecessor, is headquartered in New Jersey, with an undisclosed number of former Toys R Us employees. More details on its U.S. business strategy are to come, according to the release.
The collapse of Toys R Us took a dramatic toll on the market. After four straight years of growth, toy sales in the U.S. dropped 2% to $21.6 billion last year, according to NPD Group, in part due to the retailer's demise. Over the holidays, mass merchandisers like Walmart, Target and Amazon, as well as department store chains like Kohl's and J.C. Penney, moved quickly to fill the void. As a result, toy sales at Amazon surged 30%, and others felt a sales bump. But now that the most iconic toy retailer is back in business, will nostalgic customers come running back?
As of Jan. 20, Tru Kids has been housed under the Tru Kids Brand umbrella, which also includes brands like Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Geoffrey and more than 20 consumer toy and baby brands. Where many, including the bankruptcy judge overseeing its Chapter 11 process, didn't see a path forward for the storied toy brand, executives of Tru Kids see potential.
That resides in the over $3 billion in global retail sales in 2018 generated by Toys R Us and Babies R Us through more than 900 stores and e-commerce businesses, in more than 30 countries across Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the company said in a press release, noting that its social channels have more than 9.5 million followers.
"Despite unprecedented efforts to capture the U.S. market share this past holiday season, there is still a significant gap and huge consumer demand for the trusted experience that Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us delivers," Barry said in a statement. "We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write the next chapter of Toys"R"Us by launching a newly imagined [omnichannel] retail experience for our beloved brands here in the U.S. In addition, our strong global footprint is led by experienced and passionate operating teams that are 100% focused on growth."
The company has established a slew of global partnerships, including with Fung Retailing Ltd. in Asia. In December, a bankruptcy judge approved a $760 million sale of the Toys R Us Asia business to Fung Retailing, which previously owned about 15% of a Hong Kong-based joint venture comprising Toys R Us' Asian operations. That entity has announced plans to open 70 stores this year in Asia, India and Europe. The development of "new e-commerce platforms" are also on the horizon, although the company did not provide more detail on what exactly that will look like.
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