Toys “R” Us has a new owner, one that is committed to bring the brand back to brick-and-mortar.
WHP Global announced that it has acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids Inc., parent company to the Toys"R"Us, Babies"R"Us, Geoffrey the Giraffe brands, and more than 20 related consumer toy and baby brands. The brand acquisition and management firm, which also owns the Anne Klein and Joseph Abboud brands, said that, going forward, it will manage the global TRU business and direct its strategic expansion. WHP is led by Yehuda Shmidman, who serves as CEO and chairman. He also has served as vice chairman of TRU since 2019.
Tru Kids, which is backed by Solus Alternative Asset Management and funds managed by Ares Management, bought certain intellectual property of Toys “R” Us and intellectual property from after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and went on to liquidate its U.S. stores. In late 2019, Tru Kids opened two Toys “R” Us stores, at Westfield Garden State Plaza, in Paramus, New Jersey, The Galleria in Houston. But its return to physical retail was undone by the pandemic and the company ended up closing both locations. (The Toys “R” Us website in the U.S. is still up and running, with orders fulfilled by Amazon.)
Retail sales of toys in the U.S. hit $25.1 billion in 2020, up 16% over the previous year, according to The NPD Group, which called 2020 an “unprecedented year” for the U.S. toy industry.
"Our investment in Toys"R"Us reflects our belief and passion for the brand,” stated Shmidman. “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."
In an interview with CNBC, Shmidman said the plan is to open Toys “R” Us stores again in North America, with a number in time for the 2021 holiday shopping season. The locations could take the form of flagships, pop-ups, airport locations or mini-shops inside other retailers’ stores, the report said.
Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us generate over $2 billion in global retail sales annually through nearly 900 branded stores and e-commerce sites in over 25 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East.