Is Toys"R"Us Set To Make A Comeback?

Once among the most coveted toy brands in North America, toy retailer Toys”R”Us is looking to make a comeback to the U.S. toy market after four years and to regain the lost market share after New York-based WHP Global acquired a controlling stake in parent company of Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us.

WHP Global, a leading brand acquisition and management firm, had acquired the brand in 2017, along with Solus Alternative Asset Management and Ares Management Corp., after the company failed to emerge out of bankruptcy. It also had closed all of its 700 stores across the U.S. in June 2018. The brand finally emerged from bankruptcy as Tru Kids in January 2019.

WHP Global has now acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids Inc., the parent company to the iconic Toys”R”Us, Babies”R”Us, Geoffrey the Giraffe brands, and more than 20 established related consumer toy and baby brands, including Journey Girls, Fastlane, True Heroes, You & Me and Just Like Home.

Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us currently generate over $2 billion in global retail sales annually through nearly 900 branded stores and ecommerce sites in over 25 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East.

The acquisition of a controlling stake will enable WHP Global to manage the global Toys”R”Us business and direct its strategic expansion of the company.

“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,” said Yehuda Shmidman, Chairman and CEO at WHP. Shmidman has served as Vice Chairman of Toys”R”Us since 2019.

Founded by Charles Lazarus, Toys”R”Us became the world’s most beloved toy store and a globally-recognized household name in the toy category. The brand is synonymous with the joys of childhood for millions of people around the world. Babies”R”Us was introduced several years later.

According to reports, WHP Global plans to open Toys”R”Us stores, ahead of this 2021 holiday season in various formats such as flagships, pop-ups, airport locations and mini stores inside other retailers’ shops. However, the approximate number of store openings was not disclosed.

Even in July 2019, Toys”R”Us tried to make a comeback before the 2019 holiday season after it teamed up with b8ta, a software-powered experiential retailer, to launch a new store experience, with two new pop-up Toys “R” Us locations. However, it failed to take off due to the pandemic in early 2020.

Including Toys”R”Us and its fashion brands, WHP Global manages over $3 billion in retail sales across its portfolio of brands. It is backed by a $350 million equity commitment from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. and a leverage facility provided by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock.

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