Tru Kids Acquired by New Owner, New U.S. Toys R Us Stores Planned
Brand management company WHP Global announced it has acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids, the parent company of the Toys R Us, Babies R Us, and Geoffrey the Giraffe brands, reports CNBC.
“We’re in the brand business, and Toys R Us is the single most credible, trusted and beloved toy brand in the world,” Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and chief executive officer of WHP, said in an interview. Shmidman has been serving as vice chair of Tru Kids since 2019.
WHP plans to open Toys R Us stores again in the U.S., ideally ahead of this holiday season. Shmidman said the undisclosed number of new stores could come in various formats, such as flagships, pop-ups, airport locations, or mini stores inside other retailers’ shops.
Total Retail's Take: Yet another parent company is taking the reins of iconic toy brand Toys R Us, following a challenging couple of years for the retailer. Tru Kids bought the brands and intellectual property from Toys R Us after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2017. Tru Kids tried a number of strategies to stir up momentum since, including opening two pop-up locations in the U.S. However, both locations closed earlier this year due to poor mall traffic, which has been especially suppressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. For a period of time, big-box retailer Target powered Toys R Us’ website. Currently, all purchases on ToysRUs.com are redirected to Amazon.com.
WHP Global is bullish on the white space in the toy market in North America, however. “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,” Shmidman noted. Going forward, WHP said it will be managing the global Tru Kids business, and guiding its expansion. The lingering ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the brand's store locations, as American malls struggle with low foot traffic. “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.”
Fans of the heritage Toys R Us brands will be happy to see stores return for the holidays, but WHP Global will certainty face an uphill battle to relaunch this the iconic toy retailer this year.
Kristina Stidham is the digital content director at Total Retail and sister brands Women in Retail Leadership Circle and Women Leading Travel & Hospitality at NAPCO Media. She is passionate about digital media and handles video, podcast and virtual event production for all brands. You can often find her at WIRLC, TR, WLT&H or industry events with her camera and podcasting equipment—or at home on Zoom—recording interviews with thought leaders and business executives.
Kristina holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia. Go Owls! When she's not in the office, she loves to go on long walks, sing around the house, hangout with her family and two pet guinea pigs, and travel to new places.