Iconic US toy store chain Toys R Us has announced a grand expansion of its US network of stores as part of its strategic re-launch, adding up to 24 new outlets over the next 10 years in locations including international airports and cruise ships.
Parent company WHP Global said it would partner with Go Retail Group to open the stores, with the first travel retail location being at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in November through a partnership with Duty Free Americas.
The stores for the cruise industry will sell themed merchandise, although finer details such as cruise lines and store locations are yet to be disclosed.
The first retail outlets are expected to open in time for the Christmas rush.
Go Retail Group is a Texas-based company which operates year-round retail stores and hundreds of seasonal pop-ups.
It owns Calendars.com and operates stores under the Go Toys & Games, and Go Calendars & Games banners.
It also operates the teen-focused home decor and pop culture retail chain Attic Salt.
The partnership with Toys R Us is expected to allow for a plan to bring back physical locations of the toy brand while providing “valuable brick-and-mortar logistics and operational excellence”.
Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in 2018 – nearly 70 years after it was founded – citing US$5 billion in company debt; a decline in toy sales; and increased competition from mass retailers including Walmart, Target and Amazon.
It promptly closed 182 stores across the US.
Over 1000 stores in 30 countries outside the US which operate under a licensing agreement with the brand remained in business after the group collapsed.
In 2021, brand acquisition and management firm WHP Global bought a controlling stake in Toys R Us through then-parent company Tru Kids Inc.
Later that year, the brand marked its US return, opening an 1850 square metre global flagship store at the American Dream shopping and entertainment mall in New Jersey.
In 2022, WHP launched 452 Toys R Us retail concessions at Macy’s department stores in partnership with Go! Retail Group.
WHP chief executive officer Yehuda Shmidman said the Toys R Us acquisition was a key strategic move.
“Since acquiring Toys R Us, we have increased our global retail footprint by more than 50% with openings in the US, UK, India, Dubai and Mexico,” he said.
“We now have over 1400 stores and e-commerce sites across 31 countries and as we head into 2024, we are excited to bring Toys R Us to consumers everywhere, whether you are visiting Macy’s, one of our flagship stores, an airport or a cruise ship.”
He said the new flagship stores would open in prime locations that complement the existing retail footprint at Macy’s.
The Australian wing of Toys R Us entered voluntary administration in 2018, closing 44 stores nationwide after it failed to find a local buyer to run the business.
In 2021, toy retailer Funtastic Limited rescued the Australian stores and changed its name to Toys“R”Us ANZ (ASX: TOY).
In 2022, WHP Global announced it had signed a licence agreement for Toys”R”Us ANZ to run digital and physical retail commerce operations for Toys R Us and Babies R Us (a one-stop shop for baby and toddler products) in the UK.
“We selected Toys”R”Us ANZ as our partner to expand into the UK because of its proven success in launching with us in Australia,” Mr Shmidman said.
“Toys R Us today is a vibrant business with over 900 stores and e-commerce sites across more than 25 countries generating over US$2 billion a year in sales and growing.”
Research shows the UK has one of the most advanced e-commerce markets in Europe, with internet sales accounting for more than 25% of all current retail transactions and forecast to reach 33% by 2025.