Things have been a little less joyful ever since Toys R Us went under in 2018, but Geoffrey the Giraffe will be back to hocking toys in brick-and-mortar locations soon enough. Brand management company WHP Global has recently acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids, the parent company that owns the Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands. Under new leadership, WHP has announced its plans to reopen a number of Toys R Us stores in the United States again - and it could happen by the end of the year.
"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 Global, told CNBC on Monday. "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... The restructurings took a big toll on the company, and then Covid is, hopefully, once in a century. But now we're getting past those two things. And the sky's the limit."
Previously, Tru Kids had attempted to revive Toys R Us with a few pop-up locations in the United States. At one point, Target was also powering the Toys R Us website with the brand struggling to stay alive. Unfortunately, the pandemic resulted in the closure of the pop-up locations, and all purchases on ToysRUs.com now just redirect to Amazon.
Remaining optimistic about the future, Shmidman added: "The restructurings took a big toll on the company. And then Covid is, hopefully, once in a century. But now we're getting past those two things. And the sky's the limit."
With bringing back Toys R Us stores in the U.S., Shmidman says this could come in various formats, such as flagships, pop-ups, airport locations, or mini stores inside other retailers' shops. The company hasn't yet revealed how many locations they're planning to open in the country this year or beyond.
"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."
Though Toys R Us went bankrupt and faced additional difficulties due to the pandemic, some industry experts would say that it makes perfect sense to resurrect the stores at this time. There has been an ongoing void left by the chain going under nearly three years ago, and ever since, many have been vocal about their desire to see the physical locations return.
"While the U.S. toy industry has shown incredible resilience in the absence of Toys R Us, there is still a massive hole for a truly national toy store chain," deputy editor of ToyBook James Zahn told Yahoo Finance. "The key is doing it right - pandemic challenges aside, the experiment with [retailer] B8ta and the short-lived e-commerce play with Target were wrong moves, because at the end of the day, a toy store should be about getting families excited about toys. It wasn't the right balance between experience and assortment."
Let's hope things turn around for Toys R Us once they start reopening locations again under their new ownership. This news comes to us from CNBC.