Toys ‘R’ Us Is Back As “Tru Kids” – What Does It All Mean?

The big news last year was the death of Toys ‘R’ Us, an international chain of toy stores that was a major part of many of our childhoods. During the 2018 holiday season, there was a brief flirtation with a comeback, in the form of endcaps in Kroeger markets with “Geoffrey’s Toy Box”, but it was nothing really worth noting. Today, we have news that the brand is back – but in what capacity?

The Toybook is reporting today that Toys ‘R’ Us is officially back, but now as the parent company Tru Kids Inc. dba Tru Kids Brands.

Tru Kids Brands is led by Richard Barry, the former global chief merchandising officer at Toys “R” Us, who will serve as President & CEO.  Joining Barry are Matthew Finigan as CFO, James Young as EVP of global license management & general counsel, and Jean-Daniel Gatignol as SVP of global sourcing & brands.

Tru Kids has appointed brand management veteran Yehuda Shmidman as Vice Chairman to advise on global strategy and execution. Shmidman is the CEO of Wave Hill Partners, and the former CEO of Sequential Brands Group. Toybook received this quote from Mr Shmidman:

“Despite unprecedented efforts to capture the U.S. market share this past holiday season, there is still a significant gap and huge consumer demand for the trusted experience that Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us delivers,” says Barry. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write the next chapter of Toys“R”Us by launching a newly imagined omni channel retail experience for our beloved brands here in the U.S. In addition, our strong global footprint is led by experienced and passionate operating teams that are 100% focused on growth.”

They also recieved this quote from the new CEO, Richard Barry:

“We have an incredible team focused on bringing Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us back in a completely new and reimagined way, so the U.S. doesn’t have to go through another holiday without these beloved brands,.”

The new company will be based in New Jersey, with international partners in hope of spreading the businesses around the globe.

TRU Kids applied for their trademark back in November 29 of last year, a few months after their stores closed their doors for the last time.

So what does that mean for toy stores? That is truly to be determined, as the company has not released their business strategy just yet.

This is great news ahead of NY Toy Fair 2019, as toy makers suffered a great deal without them. The bigger picture, though, is how the parent company of TRU ultimately eliminated many lower level jobs during their bankruptcy, only to revive the brand without any of the previous debt, but retaining all the name power.

Brick and mortar stores may return, but will their scale be that of their previous sizes? Will they turn to more automated check-out machines instead of using people, thus eliminating more jobs?

There is a lot to unpack with this news, and it’s too early to pass too many judgments, but for now I quantify this as a mixed bag of news. I’m excited to see their return (at least in concept), but not happy with how things ended, and quite concerned with what their new business outlook will be and how it will affect not only the toy business landscape, as well as what part it will play in the current US economic scene.

Toys ‘R’ Us originally filed for bankruptcy in September 2017. The store had been in business since 1948.

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