Toys “R” Us is switching management again. It was announced on Monday that the brand management company WHP Global has acquired a controlling interest in the parent company of the once proud/GOAT toy store. Also acquired in the same transaction are controlling interests in Babies “R” Us, plus the Geoffrey the Giraffe brands.
“We’re in the brand business, and Toys R Us is the single most credible, trusted and beloved toy brand in the world,” said the chairman and chief executive officer of WHP, Yehuda Shmidman, according to CNBC. “We’re coming off a year where toys are just on fire. … And for Toys R Us, the U.S. is really a blank canvas.”
Since 2019 Shmidman has been the vice chair of Tru Kids, which is relevant since that’s the company that bought the intellectual property and brands from Toys “R” Us when that chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2017. After a tough holiday season in the same year, Toys “R” Us was liquidated, and in 2018 all its stores in the U.S. and UK were shut down.
Since then things have continued to be pretty grim for the company. Two pop-up locations were erected in the U.S. but bad traffic, which was reportedly exacerbated by COVID-19, led to those stores closing. The retailer also had a new website powered by Target, and now all purchases from its site get redirected over to Amazon.
“The restructurings took a big toll on the company,” Shmidman added. “And then COVID is, hopefully, once in a century. But now we’re getting past those two things. And the sky’s the limit.”
Despite the end of its run in Britain and the U.S., the respective pair of Toys and Babies “R” Us still holds more than 900 stores in 25 other countries. Shmidman plans to have stores in North America open in time for the holiday season. Also, while your lasting vision of Toys “R” Us from whatever decade you were a kid in may be a big ass department store behemoth like that in the image up top, Shmidman says that the new version could be rolled out in a variety of formats, including pop-ups, mini-stores in other retailers, locations at airports, and then some flagships.
“There are so many malls that will no longer be in the future, so we don’t need to be there,” Shmidman said. “But we could be in malls that do have traffic. … So we really have an opportunity not just to capture that experience for toys that people are yearning for, but also capture where [people] want to shop. That will be very interesting post-Covid.”
At this point there is no report on how many stores we could see opening. Financial details weren’t disclosed either. Anyway, share this with the 6-year-old in your life, then prepare to explain to them what Toys “R” Us even is.