Toys "R" Us
Thanksgiving could turn into a full shopping day this year, industry consultants say, as retailers debate moving up their openings and doorbuster events. While retailers aren't expected to announce any special Thanksgiving hours until the second half of October or into November, "it's inevitable to see them open all day or even earlier than last year," said Joel Bines, managing director and co-leader of consulting firm AlixPartners’ retail practice, in an interview.
More Toys"R"Us stores will feature in-location Claire's shops, broadening its offerings for tween girls beyond toys and video games. The companies said Wednesday they would expand their partnership to about 100 stores in Europe and 12 locations in the U.S. by the end of the year after a successful European pilot program. The company's Times Square and FAO Schwartz stores in New York will debut their Claire's shops this week; the rest of the U.S. spots will open by the end of October in locations from Pennsylvania to California.
Christmas is still more than three months away, but the game is already on in the toy aisle with both Wal-Mart and Toys"R"Us publishing some of their holiday toy lists Wednesday. Winning the game for Toys"R"Us isn't just about picking the hit product, it's also about proving there's viable room for it to exist and win as a specialty toy retailer, as other specialty chains from Best Buy to Barnes & Noble also guard their respective foothold against rivals from Wal-Mart to Amazon.com.
Toys"R"Us unveiled its "go forward" strategy Wednesday, but much of its game plan seemed to come from past playbooks. Toys"R"Us CEO Antonio Urcelay and U.S. President Hank Mullany told analysts, investors and the media that they have a "TRU Transformation" plan in the works that they believe will stabilize sales, reduce costs and position the company for future growth. They said they've already made significant cost-reduction moves. Those include cutting about 100 jobs at the Wayne, N.J. headquarters out of 1,600 positions and more than 400 jobs worldwide out of more than 67,000 posts over the past month.
In the beginning of his session at the National Retail Federation's Big Show in New York City yesterday, Healey Cypher, head of retail innovation at eBay, asked the audience an intriguing question: Does offline even exist anymore? The days of consumers walking into a store without their smartphone are, for the most part, over. The convergence of channels has already taken place, and mobile is the chief reason why.
Thanks to a variety of improvements, including streamlining the checkout process, Toys“R”Us was found to be the retailer that delivers the best mobile site user experience, according to a new report from the e-tailing group.
The Toys"R"Us board has chosen interim Chief Executive Officer Antonio Urcelay as chief executive, but has paired him with a former Wal-Mart executive as the head of the Wayne, N.J.-based company's U.S. retail operations. The announcement this week follows an eight-month search that followed the resignation of former CEO Jerry Storch in February. Urcelay, who previously headed Toys’ global operations, was named interim CEO soon after Storch stepped aside, but has kept a relatively low profile in the interim position. Hank Mullany, a former executive vice president of Wal-Mart, U.S., was named president of Toys"R"Us, U.S., effective Nov. 5.
Last week, Toys"R"Us announced its intent to upgrade its price-matching policy on items available in its Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores to include select online retailer pricing. RetailWire reports on the announcement and wonders, despite price matching major competitors such as diapers.com, BestBuy.com and Amazon.com, if the move will be enough to help reverse Toys"R"Us' sliding sales.
Wal-Mart's recent price comparison advertisements may be enticing consumers, but the promotions are also angering competitors. Toys"R"Us and Best Buy, two retailers targeted in the Wal-Mart ads, are taking action by making complaints to attorneys general in several states against the discount retailer. Wal-Mart Spokesperson Steve Restivo confirmed the retailer was contacted by Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and Pennsylvania regarding its rivals’ complaints, but no legal action has been taken by any of the states or the retailers beyond letters and the conversations that were exchanged.
Toys"R"Us may be in the throes of an intensely competitive holiday season, but several recently announced initiatives are designed to position the company for success beyond Christmas 2012. Expanding its presence in global e-commerce, as well as Asia, the company is launching a dedicated web store, Toysrus.com.cn, in China. Toys"R"Us is also developing mobile-optimized sites and apps for iOS and Android in 11 markets around the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain and the U.K. Tablet-optimized sites will be available in select markets as well.