Toys R Us Poised For Limited Comeback
About a year after Toys R Us shut all of its domestic stores in one of the largest retail closures in U.S. history, a handful of stores under that name will reportedly open again ahead of this year's Christmas shopping season.
Driving the revival is a former Toys R Us executive, Richard Barry, who has been pitching a renewed chain to toymakers, Bloomberg reports, citing anonymous sources. All together, initial plans call for about six new Toys R Us stores at unspecified locations, and an e-commerce site.
Barry is now CEO of Tru Kids Brands, which won the rights to the Toys R Us brand last year, as well as the former company's other assets, including Babies R Us, Geoffrey the Giraffe and Imaginarium, CNN reports.
How much of the U.S. toy market a revived Toys R Us would gain is an open question. When the chain disappeared, other major retailers, such as Walmart and Target, wasted no time in expanding their toy selections, thus raising their game in the sector as last year's holiday season approached.
Another uncertainty is whether major toymakers will want to do business with the new Toys R Us. When the old Toys R Us closed, some of the country's largest makers, such as Hasbro and Mattel, took a hit. At least one, MGA Entertainment, is reportedly willing to sell to Toys R Us, Bloomberg reports.
The bankruptcy resulted in the closure of more than 800 U.S. Toys R Us stores last year, though the brand is still alive in Europe and Asia, with about 900 stores open. The brand also has more than 80 locations operating in Canada.
The reinvented U.S. toy stores wouldn't be quite the same as the big-boxes that Toys R Us used to inhabit. Rather, the new stores would measure about 10K SF and, according to Barry, be more experiential.
The former Toys R Us big-boxes are being slowly disposed of in any case. Under the supervision of Raider Hill Advisors, which the Toys R Us bankruptcy estate hired to do real estate services for it, Hill Street Properties has been disposing of the real estate of the former toy chain, much like Seritage Growth Properties has been selling off former Sears locations.