Toys "R" Us

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Toys "R" Us, Inc.
Private
Industry Retail
Fate Bankruptcy
Founded
(as Children's Supermart)
June 1957; 61 years ago (1957-06) (as Toys 'R' Us)
Founder Charles Lazarus
Headquarters Wayne, New Jersey, United States
Number of locations
851 (June 2018)
Area served
International
Products
  • Toys
  • Clothing
  • Baby products
Revenue Decrease US$11.54 billion (2016)[1]
Increase US$-36 million (2016)[1]
Total assets Decrease US$6.908 billion (2016)[1]
Owner
Number of employees
64,000 before liquidation[2]
Divisions
  • Babies "R" Us (1996–)
  • Kids "R" Us (1983–2004)
Website www.toysrusinc.com

Toys "R" Us, Inc. (logo stylized as Toys Я Us) is an American toy and juvenile-products retailer founded in April 1948 and headquartered in Wayne, New Jersey.

Founded by Charles Lazarus in its modern iteration in June 1957, Toys "R" Us traced its origins to Lazarus's children's furniture store, which he started in 1948. He added toys to his offering, and eventually shifted his focus.

Toys "R" Us expanded as a chain, becoming predominant in its niche field of toy retail. Represented by cartoon mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe from May 1965, Toys "R" Us eventually branched out into launching the stores Babies "R" Us, Toys "R" Us Express, and Kids "R" Us. In addition, it exclusively operated the FAO Schwarz brand from 2009 to 2016. It also operated a portfolio of e-commerce sites including Toysrus.com, Babiesrus.com and FAO.com.[3]

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. on September 18, 2017, and has also filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada (see Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act). The company had been in the toy business for more than 65 years and operated around 800 stores in the United States and around 800 outside the US, although these numbers have steadily decreased with time.[4]

It was announced on March 14, 2018, that all Toys "R" Us stores in the United Kingdom would close.[5][6] The next day, it was announced that the U.S. operations of Toys "R" Us were, after 70 years, going out of business and selling all 735 locations in the U.S.[7][8]

The bankruptcy of the chain in the United States has not affected various international operations, however, including Asia and Africa.[9][10][11][12][13][14] The Canadian branches were purchased by Fairfax Financial on June 1, 2018.[15] The U.K., U.S., and Australia stores closed on April 24, June 29, and August 5, 2018, respectively. However, the company still exists as the owner of the international operations, with the exception of the Canadian stores.


Current operations

Many Toys "R" Us stores in several countries are still corporately owned and are trying to find buyers. However, stores in some countries are independently owned and operated with Toys "R" Us licensing its name to a local company.

Africa and the Middle East

Since 1995, the Al-Futtaim Group has operated stores in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.[16] Stores in Israel are operated by the Fishman retail group,[17] while stores in Saudi Arabia are owned by Qatar Petroleum. Stores in South Africa, Namibia, and Zambia are also independently owned and operated.[18]

Americas

As of June 1, 2018, Fairfax Financial owns and operates 82 Toys "R" Us stores in Canada.[19]

Asia

Toys "R" Us has stores in Brunei, China (mainland, Macau, and Hong Kong), India, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore. All locations are corporately owned, with the exception of those in India and South Korea which are owned by Lulu Hypermarket and Lotte Mart respectively. Toys "R" Us has engaged in talks to sell its Asian unit, but so far no deal has been announced.[20]

Europe

Locations in Austria, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Poland, and Spain are corporately-owned. In April 2018, it was announced that Smyths would acquire stores in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. As of July 2018, the sales are still pending.[21] Plans for stores in other European countries have not been announced yet, but Dave Brandon says that liquidation is likely.[22]

Stores in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden are owned and operated by Top-Toy.[23]

Company history

Original Children's Supermart location in Washington, DC is now a bar.
Original Toys R Us location is now Madam's Organ Blues Bar on 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C.

Charles Lazarus started Children's Supermart (which would evolve into Toys "R" Us) in Washington, D.C., during the post-war baby boom era in 1948 as a baby-furniture retailer. Its first location was at 2461 18th St. NW, where the nightclub Madam's Organ Blues Bar is located. Lazarus began receiving requests from customers for baby toys. After adding baby toys, he got requests for toys for older children. The focus of the store changed in 1957, and Toys "R" Us was born in Rockville, Maryland.[citation needed] Toys "R" Us was acquired in 1966 by Interstate Department Stores,Inc.,[24] owner of the White Front, Topps Chains and Children's Bargain Town USA, a sister toy-store chain to Toys "R" Us in the American Midwest that would later be re-branded as part of the Toys "R" Us chain. The original Toys "R" Us store design from 1969 to 1989 consisted of vertical rainbow stripes and a brown roof with a front entrance and side exit.[25] Some brown-roof locations still exist, although some have been painted different colors or renovated.

At its peak, Toys "R" Us was considered a classic example of a category killer, a business that specializes so thoroughly and efficiently in one sector that it pushes out competition from both smaller specialty stores and larger general retailers.[26] However, since the rise of mass merchants like Walmart, Target and Amazon, Toys "R" Us has lost much of its share of the toy market, and has fallen behind Walmart in toy sales since 1998.[27]

To improve the company, the board of directors installed John Eyler (formerly of FAO Schwarz). Eyler launched an unsuccessful, expensive plan to remodel and re-launch the chain. Blaming market pressures (primarily competition from Wal-Mart and Target), Toys "R" Us considered splitting its toy and baby businesses. On July 21, 2005, a consortium of Bain Capital Partners LLC, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Vornado Realty Trust invested $1.3 billion to complete a $6.6 billion leveraged buyout of the company. Public stock closed for the last time at $26.74—pennies from the 68-week high, but far short of its all-time high of almost $45 in fourth-quarter 1993 and its five-year high of $31 in Q2 2001. Toys "R" Us is now a privately owned entity. However, the company still files with the Securities and Exchange Commission (as required by its debt agreements).[28]

Geoffrey the Giraffe

File:Lifestyle AboutTRU.gif
The current Geoffrey Giraffe

Formerly known as Dr. G. Raffe, the company's mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe made his debut during 1957 in print advertisements for Children's Bargain Town. He was known for saying "Toys "R" Us", a quote that paved the way for the company. During 1969, when Children's Bargain Town became Toys Я Us, Dr. G. Raffe was renamed Geoffrey and became the official Toys "R" Us "spokesanimal".

Flagship store

Outside of large, brightly lit store at night in New York City, surrounded by advertisements
Flagship store in Times Square, Manhattan, which operated from 2001–2015

In July 2001, Toys "R" Us opened an international flagship store in New York's Times Square at a cost of $35 million.[29] The 110,000 square-foot store included various themed zones such as an amusement arcade (known as "R"Cade), Barbie (with a life-size dreamhouse), electronics (with dedicated sections like Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova and Skullcandy), Jurassic Park (with an animatronic T-Rex), Lego, Wonka, and the signature indoor Ferris wheel. The store drew thousands of tourists for over a decade before the company decided to cancel its lease on the space in December 2015. In August 2017, Toys "R" Us announced a 35,000 square-foot temporary store near the original one that would be open around the holiday season.[30]

Bankruptcy

On September 18, 2017, Toys "R" Us, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, stating the move would give it flexibility to deal with $5 billion in long-term debt, borrow $2 billion so it can pay suppliers for the upcoming holiday season and invest in improving current operations.[31][2][32] The company stated that its brick-and-mortar stores and online sales sites would continue to operate.[33]

A company statement quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald said only U.S. and Canadian operations are affected:

The company has not had an annual profit since 2013. It reported a net loss of US$164 million in the quarter ended April 29, 2017. It lost US$126 million in the same period in the prior year.[34]

On December 4, 2017, the company reported that it would be liquidating and closing at least 26 stores in the United Kingdom as part of an insolvency restructuring known as a company voluntary arrangement.[35]

In January 2018, the company announced it would liquidate and close up to 182 of its stores in the U.S. as part of its restructuring, as well as convert up to 12 stores into co-branded Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores.[36][37]

On February 28, 2018, Toys "R" Us Limited entered administration, putting 3,200 jobs at risk in the UK. This comes after it racked up a £15m tax bill, which it is unlikely to pay back. On March 2, 2018, it was announced that all UK stores would begin a liquidation sale and most would close later on.[38] On April 24, 2018, Toys "R" Us stopped trading in the United Kingdom after 34 years of service.[39]

On March 14, 2018, it was said that its Canadian and 200 US stores may survive.[40] This was followed soon after by the announcement that all of the corporate-owned stores in the United States would also be either sold off to franchisees or shuttered entirely.[41][42] However, the company would be working to keep 200 stores in the U.S. open and merge them with stronger Canadian operations.[43]

Later that same day, however, Toys "R" Us announced that all of its US stores would be closing, ending 70 years of operation;[44] in addition to the stores in the 50 states, all Puerto Rico stores were also closing.[45] Although there was initally no statement regarding its fate, the only Toys "R" Us store in Guam closed on June 27, 2018.[46]

MGA Entertainment Inc, a California-based toy company, submitted a bid for Toys "R" Us Canada on March 14, 2018.[47] On March 15, 2018, Toys "R" Us received approval from the bankruptcy court to liquidate its assets.[48][49] The company has indicated in filings that the Canadian operations are profitable and desired to preserve the operations of the 82 store chain through a sale.[50] However, on March 19, 2018, buyers stated that they were interested in acquiring the rights to the Toys "R" Us brand name, mascot, and jingle, while other buyers stated that they were interested in purchasing a small number of US stores to operate as showrooms.[51]

Liquidation sales started on March 23, 2018.[52] However, CEO of MGA Entertainment Isaac Larian and other investors pledged $200 million to try to save about 400 of the remaining 735 US stores. A GoFundMe page was briefly ran to pledge more money to Toys "R" Us, but was then closed on April 13.[53][54][55] On March 29, 2018, Toys "R" Us shut down purchasing on their US websites, making users redirect to an alternate sales site.[56]

On April 21, 2018, it was announced that UK and Irish rival Smyths would purchase Toys "R" Us stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, expanding Smyths to the continental European market. A statement said that they have entered an agreement to buy Toys "R" Us units in those respective countries, including Toys "R" Us Europe's head office in Cologne. Smyths said that all of the outlets acquired will be rebranded.[57] On April 13 a bid was made by Issac Larian to buy 356 Toys "R" Us stores for $890 million, but was rejected on April 17 and was fully scrapped on April 23.[58][55]

On April 24, 2018, it was announced that the Canadian division would be sold to Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. for approximately $234 million. This will keep the 82 remaining stores in Canada operating under the Toys "R" Us brand.[59] The sale was completed on June 1, 2018.[60]

The Australian wing of Toys "R" Us entered voluntary administration on May 22.[61] On June 20, It was announced that all of their Australian stores would be closing.[62][63] And on August 5, 2018, all of the remaining Toys "R" Us locations in Australia shut down.[64]

On June 29, 2018, Toys "R" Us shut down all of its remaining US locations.[65][66][67]

Other brands

Kids "R" Us

Kids "R" Us (corporately styled "Kids Я Us") was a children's clothing retailer. Their first locations opened in 1983 in Paramus, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York. The chain folded in 2003.[68]

Logos

Babies "R" Us

Babies "R" Us operates as a specialty baby products retailer and has grown to approximately 260 locations in the United States. The stores offers an assortment of products for newborns and infants.

Logos

Toys "R" Us, International

A Toys "R" Us store in Vaughan Mills
Toys "R" Us store in Angeles City, Philippines

In addition to its expansion in the United States, Toys "R" Us launched a worldwide presence in 1984 when the company opened its first international wholly owned store in Canada (70 stores headquartered in Concord, Ontario) and licensed operation in Singapore. Toys "R" Us, International operates more than 600 international stores and over 140 licensed stores in 35 countries and jurisdictions outside the United States, including Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Germany (60), Switzerland (7), Austria (14), Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, among others. The company continues to grow internationally, and made its most recent entry into a new market in October 2011 when it opened its first licensed location in Poland (Blue City).

Toys "R" Us opened their first stores in Japan in 1991 as a joint venture with McDonald's Holdings Company (Japan), Ltd.[69] The joint venture was supposed to last until 2018. However, in 2006, Toys "R" Us terminated their Japanese joint venture with McDonald's Holdings. As a result of the termination, Toys "R" Us was sued by McDonald's Holdings for breach of contract. McDonald's Holdings was awarded an ¥1.38 billion ($13.35 million) settlement in 2008.[70][71] After their joint venture ended, Toys "R" Us increased their ownership from approximately 48% to about 61%.[71]

FAO Schwarz

In May 2009, Toys "R" Us, Inc. acquired toy retailer FAO Schwarz including the retailer's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City, as well as its e-commerce site, FAO.com.[72]

During the 2010 holiday season, Toys "R" Us, Inc. developed a rebranding strategy for FAO Schwarz, including a new logo containing a sprite-like creature which the company has dubbed "Wit." In addition, the company put FAO-branded merchandise in Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores, while keeping the high-end specialty toy brands that can't be sold at mass market at the FAO Schwarz store and on the FAO.com website.[73]

A Toys "R" Us Express store in The Oaks Mall in Gainesville, Florida

The company closed the FAO Schwarz flagship store in New York on July 15, 2015, citing rising rental costs, but continued to carry FAO Schwarz-branded toys in its Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores until 2017.[74] And in October 2016, FAO Schwarz was sold to ThreeSixty Group, Inc. for an undisclosed amount.[75]

Toys "R" Us Express

For the 2009 holiday-shopping season, Toys "R" Us tried a smaller-store concept to attract customers and 90 "Holiday Express" stores across the United States and Canada were opened.[76] The Holiday Express stores are smaller than regular Toys "R" Us locations, often located in malls, and offer a more limited selection of merchandise than would be available at a stand-alone Toys "R" Us store. Most (if not all) of these 90 stores were opened in shopping-center and mall spaces that had been vacated by store chains closing their doors during the recession (including KB Toys, several of which were taken over by Toys "R" Us).[76] Toys "R" Us's plan was to keep the Holiday Express stores open until early January 2010 and close them shortly thereafter, but the success of many prompted the company to reconsider and several were kept open.[77] These stores are known as "Toys "R" Us Express". Beginning in June 2010, Toys "R" Us opened a total of 600 Express locations. Four more were converted to Toys "R" Us outlet stores.[78]

Online operations

Toys "R" Us launched www.toysrus.com in June 1996.

Following a disastrous Christmas 1999 trading period where it failed to deliver gifts on time, it entered into a ten-year contract with Amazon.com to be the exclusive supplier of toys on the website. Amazon eventually reneged on the terms of the contract by allowing third-party retailers to use its marketplace to sell toys, citing Toys "R" Us's failure to carry a sufficiently large range of goods, including the most popular lines.[79] In 2006 Toys "R" Us won a lawsuit against Amazon and in 2009 were awarded $51 million, just over half of the $93 million damages claimed for in their filing.[80]

It placed at #29 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide for 2012.[81] Toysrus.com is one of the most visited sites in the specialty toy and baby products retail category[citation needed] with an assortment of toys. In addition, Babiesrus.com offers a wide selection of baby products and supplies and access to the company's baby registry.

Looking to expand its web portfolio, in February 2009, the company acquired online toy seller eToys.com from Parent Co., which filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2008. Financial terms were not disclosed.[82] Around the same time, it was reported that Toys "R" Us, Inc. bought Toys.com for an estimated $5.1 million. Today, the company operates Toys.com to list unadvertised and exclusive deals available on its portfolio of e-commerce sites.[83]

In 2010, Toys "R" Us, Inc. reported that its Internet sales grew 29.9% year-over-year to $782 million from $602 million, and in April 2011, the company announced plans to open a dedicated e-commerce fulfillment center in McCarran, Nevada.[84] The company later reported online sales of $1 billion for 2011 and $1.1 billion for 2012.[85]

Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com shut down their operations and replaced them with a brief farewell message when the US liquidation began in March 2018. However, surviving international operations continue to sell merchandise online.

21st century initiatives

Rooftop solar project

On April 11, 2011, Toys "R" Us announced that it plans to cover 70 percent of the roof of its distribution center (located in Flanders, New Jersey) with a solar installation. The company claims this 5.38-megawatt solar project will be the largest rooftop solar installation in North America.[86]

Integrated store strategy

On August 23, 2011, Toys "R" Us Inc. announced it would open 21 new stores before year's end, as part of an overall strategy the company has been pursuing since 2006 to house Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us in the same building. The company says the stores provide more shopper convenience. The privately held toy company said this will include 11 "R" Superstores—which have full-size Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores in one location—and 10 stores that will have smaller Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores in the same location. The stores will be in 13 states including Alabama, California, Georgia, New Jersey, and Texas. It is also remodeling 23 existing stores so that the two stores will be in the same location.[87]

Product safety

Toys "R" Us has reportedly implemented high safety standards, and in 2007 vowed to take an aggressive approach towards holding vendors accountable for meeting those standards.[88] Former Chairman and CEO Gerald L. Storch, testifying before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government on toy safety in September 2007, said he supported new legislation strengthening toy-safety standards and outlined new initiatives the retailer had set forth to ensure that its customers receive timely information on recalls (including a new website).[89][90]

In 2008, the company introduced stricter product safety standards exceeding federal requirements. Among the new standards was a requirement for materials inside toys to meet a standard of 250 parts per million of lead for all products manufactured exclusively for the retailer (compared with the federal standard of 600 ppm.) Toys "R" Us also announced the requirement that baby products be produced without the addition of phthalates, which have raised concerns about infant safety.[91] The company has since adjusted its requirements to meet new federal standards enacted with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

“TRU Transformation”

In early 2014, Toys“R”Us, Inc., announced its “TRU Transformation,” strategy, which concentrates on efforts to fix foundational issues in order to position the company for growth in the future. The company will focus on improving shopping experiences in-store and online. To improve the customer experience, the company plans to manage inventory better, make stores less cluttered and easier to shop, and develop a clear pricing strategy with simpler promotional offers.[92][93] The company will also focus on integrating its in-store and online businesses more fully.[94]

Christmas Season initiatives

In 2013, Quartz.com called Toys “R” Us the largest standalone toy store chain in the world.[95] Since the toy business is incredibly seasonal, more than 40% of the company’s sales come in during the fourth quarter of the year.[96]

In December 2013, eight days before Christmas, Toys ‘R’ Us announced that their stores in the United States will stay open for 87 hours straight.[97] The flagship store of the retailer in New York Times Square was open for 24 hours a day[98] from December 1 up to December 24 – for a total of 566 consecutive hours to cater to shoppers who were mostly tourists. The announcement came after snow and rain caused a nearly 9 percent year-over-year decline[99] in store foot traffic in the United States.[100]

This move also pushed the retailer to hire an additional 45,000 seasonal workers[101] to cater to the demand of the extended store hours.[102]

Logos

See also

References

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