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Toys R Us poised for ecommerce led comeback

Toys R Us: set for an omni-channel return? (Image: Shutterstock)

The Toys R Us brand could be set to make a comeback four years after it collapsed, following a majority stake in the brand’s owner, TRU Kids being sold to ambitious US-based investment firm WHP Global.

WHP Global, which is in the process of building a global retail empire, says it is planning to rebuild Toys R Us as an omni-channel brand that will use the latest in retail technology to make Toys R Us the “go-to destination and authority in toys” online and to create “immersive”, “highly interactive” experiences instore.

According to Forbes, WHP’s Chairman and CEO at WHP, Yehuda Shmidman, has high hopes for Toys R Us, I couldn’t dream of a more powerful brand to invest in,” Shmidman says. “Clearly ecommerce opportunities are substantial, but that’s just where it starts.”

WHP has bought a controlling stake in TRU Kids, the brand set up by institutional investors to hold the Toys R Us name when the company collapsed. It has itself tried to resurrect the brand, launching Toys R Us as a ‘retail as a service’ platform, which was gaining some traction, but was stymied when Covid saw stores closed.

WHP will now invest in taking the company to market through its own omni-channel model.

Shmidman, comments: “Our investment in Toys”R”Us reflects our belief and passion for the brand.  We are thrilled to be taking the reins of the world’s leading toy brand at a time when the category is up 16% and consumer demand for toys is at an all-time high. This is a natural fit for WHP, as we can leverage our global network and digital platform to help grow Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us around the world.”  

Shmidman has extensive experience with the brands, having served as Vice Chairman of TRU since 2019.

The Toys”R”Us brand – with its famous jingle “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys”R”Us kid” – and mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe – are synonymous with the joys of childhood for millions of people around the world.  For more than 70 years it has been the most trusted destination for children and parents looking for toys. Founded by Charles Lazarus, Toys”R”Us became the world’s most beloved toy store and a globally-recognized household name that to this day is a dominant leader in the toy category. 

Babies”R”Us was introduced several years after the Toys”R”Us brand was founded, and it quickly became the go-to resource for all new and expecting parents, with the largest baby registry across the USA.

Including TRU and its fashion brands, WHP manages more than $3bn in retail sales across its portfolio of brands.  WHP is backed by a $350m equity commitment from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. with a leverage facility provided to WHP by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock.

The idea makes sense as Toys R Us is still a well-known brand and, since its demise, the market and more importantly retail technology has moved on. If WHP can combine the brand name, with the right products and make the experience something new and more suited to the post-Covid world then it could do well.

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