The emergence of the first details of Toys R Us’ planned rebirth onto the retail scene yesterday have left swathes of the toy industry skeptical.
Details surfaced on Monday to confirm previous reports that the retailer’s executive team had been reaching out to toy manufacturers since January with plans for a brand revival.
Under the name TRU Kids, former executives have secured ownership rights to the Toys R Us and Babies R Us trademarks, as well as the company’s Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot. The holding company for TRU Kids Brands also took over more than 20 other established toy and baby brands.
A statement from TRU Kids said it acquired Toys R Us because of its brand power and loyalty. It also highlighted that the Toys R us and Babies R Us lines “generated over $3 billion in global retail sales in 2018 through more than 900 stores and ecommerce business.”
Richard Barry, the former global chief merchandising officer for Toys R Us, was named TRU Kids’ chief executive and president. He will be supported by chief financial officer Matthew Finigan, executive vice-president of global licence management and general counsel James Young and senior vice president of global sourcing and brands, Jean-Daniel Gatignol.
“As we start the year there is a lot to be excited about,” said Barry. “We have a healthy and growing global business with great partner that are 100 per cent focused on opening more stores and ecommerce channels in their respective markets.”
Barry however, cannot say exactly what the strategy is going forward, but he does understand that omnichannel will be key, as will immersive tech and delivering experiences to shoppers.
However, in a series of interviews with the NY Post, it would appear that a number of toymakers remain skeptical of the business that axed 30,000 jobs across 885 stores in the US with ;little by way of compensation for its employees.’
“I am certainly skeptical when I read a statement like ‘new management team,’” said Jay Foreman, chief executive of Basic Fun - a company that, according to the Post, lost roughly $6 million in the bankruptcy.
“These are the same leaders and same financial partners that were around for the demise of the company.”
Basic Fun wasn’t the only one to get burned by Toys R Us’ closure. MGA Entertainment lost over $17 million in the fallout, a point that Isaac Larian won’t be forgetting for a while.
‘We first need to get paid for a portion of the over $17 million TRU owes us before we consider doing any business with them,” he said.
Barry has publicly apologised for the losses suffered by toymakers, but has insisted that vendors are open to the new company.
“We fully appreciate the impact of the bankruptcy and for that we are very sorry,” said Barry. “What I am hearing from vendors… is that they value what TRU brought to the consumer.”
Barry has stated that he and his team have been working 24/7 to bring the toy retailer back to markets where it disappeared, including the US, the UK and Australia.
The question remains, will it be welcome?