Un­der new name, Toys R Us jump­ing back into the game

Houston Chronicle - - BUSINESS -

NEW YORK — Toys R Us fans in the U.S. should see the iconic brand re-emerge in some form by this hol­i­day sea­son.

Richard Barry, a for­mer Toys R Us ex­ec­u­tive and now CEO of the new company called Tru Kids Inc., said he and his team are still work­ing on the de­tails, but they’re ex­plor­ing var­i­ous op­tions, in­clud­ing free­stand­ing stores and shops within ex­ist­ing stores. He says that e-com­merce will play a key role.

Toys R Us, buck­ling un­der com­pe­ti­tion from Ama­zon and sev­eral bil­lions of dol­lars of debt, filed for Chap­ter 11 re­or­ga­ni­za­tion in Septem­ber 2017 and then liq­ui­dated its busi­nesses last year in the U.S., as well as sev­eral other re­gions, in­clud­ing the United King­dom.

In Oc­to­ber, a group of in­vestors won an auc­tion for Toys R Us as­sets, be­liev­ing they would do bet­ter by po­ten­tially re­viv­ing the toy chain rather than sell­ing it off for parts. Start­ing Jan. 20, Barry and sev­eral other for­mer Toys R Us ex­ec­u­tives founded Tru Kids and are now man­ag­ing the Toys R Us, Ba­bies R Us and Ge­of­frey brands.

Toys R Us gen­er­ated $3 bil­lion in global re­tail sales in 2018. Tru Kids es­ti­mates that 40 per­cent to 50 per­cent of the Toys R Us mar­ket share is still up for grabs de­spite many re­tail­ers such as Wal­mart and Tar­get ex­pand­ing their toy aisles.

“These brands are beloved by cus­tomers,” Barry said. He noted that the company will fo­cus on ex­pe­ri­ences in the phys­i­cal stores, which could be about 10,000 square feet. The orig­i­nal Toys R Us stores were roughly 40,000 square feet.

Barry said he and his team have been reach­ing out to toy­mak­ers and have re­ceived strong sup­port. But he ac­knowl­edged that many had been burned by the Toys R Us liq­ui­da­tion.

Tru Kids, based in Par­sip­pany, N.J., about a 20 minute drive from Wayne, N.J., where Toys R Us was based, will work with li­cens­ing part­ners to open 70 stores this year in Asia, In­dia and Europe. Out­side the U.S., Toys R Us con­tin­ues to op­er­ate about 800 stores.

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