Toys ‘R’ Us Plans a United States Comeback

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Toys “R” Us, the bankrupt retailer that closed its American stores last year, is planning to re-emerge in some form in time for the 2019 holiday shopping season.

Richard Barry, a former Toys “R” Us executive and now the chief executive of a new company, Tru Kids Brands, told The Associated Press that he and his team were exploring various options for a United States comeback, including free-standing stores as well as shops within other stores. While the details are still being completed, Mr. Barry said e-commerce would play a central role.

Toys “R” Us, buckling under competition from Amazon and several billions of dollars of debt, filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in September 2017 and then liquidated its businesses last year in the United States and several other regions, including Britain.

In October, a group of investors won an auction for Toys “R” Us assets, believing they would do better by potentially reviving the toy chain rather than selling it off for parts. Starting Jan. 20, Mr. Barry and several other former Toys “R” Us executives founded Tru Kids and are now managing the Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us and Geoffrey brands.

The toy retailer generated $3 billion in global retail sales in 2018. Tru Kids estimates that 40 percent to 50 percent of Toys “R” Us market share is still up for grabs even though many retailers, including Walmart and Target, are expanding their toy aisles.

“These brands are beloved by customers,” Mr. Barry said. He said his new company would focus on experiences in the physical stores, which could be about 10,000 square feet. The original Toys “R” Us stores were roughly about 40,000 square feet.

Mr. Barry said he and his team had been contacting toy makers and had received strong support. But he acknowledged that many had been burned by the Toys “R” Us liquidation.

Tru Kids is based in Parsippany, N.J., not far from the old headquarters of Toys “R” Us in Wayne, N.J. Tru Kids will work with licensing partners to open 70 stores this year in Asia and Europe. Outside the United States, Toys “R” Us continues to operate about 800 stores.

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