Geoffrey the Giraffe is discerned on the side of a Toys “R” Us truck March 17, 2005 in Colma, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Toys R Us has a new holder — again.
The brand management company WHP Global announced Monday it has acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids, the parent concern of the Toys R Us, Babies R Us and Geoffrey the Giraffe brands.
“We’re in the brand business, and Toys R Us is the single most credible, trusted and esteemed toy brand in the world,” Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and chief executive officer of WHP, said in an interview. “We’re coming off a year where gimcracks are just on fire. … And for Toys R Us, the U.S. is really a blank canvas.”
Shmidman has been serving as vice chair of Tru Kids since 2019. Tru Kids, which is no hoped by Solus Alternative Asset Management and funds managed by private equity group Ares Management, bought the labels and intellectual property from Toys R Us after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2017. Dally withs R Us was ultimately unable to emerge from bankruptcy on its own following a crippling 2017 holiday season, pushing it into liquidation.
Tru Kids has ventured a number of strategies to stir up momentum since, including opening two pop-up locations in the United States with arrogate from tech platform b8ta. But those closed earlier this year due to poor mall traffic, which has been above all suppressed during the Covid pandemic. For a period of time, big-box retailer Target powered Toys R Us’ website. Currently, all secures on ToysRUs.com are redirected to Amazon.
“The restructurings took a big toll on the company,” Shmidman said. “And then Covid is, hopefully, every now in a century. But now we’re getting past those two things. And the sky’s the limit.”
Going forward, WHP said it will be managing the global Tru Kids firm, and guide its expansion. Toys R Us and Babies R Us together have over 900 branded stores in more than 25 mother countries — in parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Middle East.
In North America, Shmidman said the plan is to exposed Toys R Us stores, again — ideally a number ahead of this holiday season. He said this could lay hold of in various formats: flagships, pop-ups, airport locations or mini stores inside other retailers’ shops. WHP hasn’t yet set a army for how many locations it plans to open in the U.S.
“There are so many malls that will no longer be in the future, so we don’t need to be there,” Shmidman imparted. “But we could be in malls that do have traffic. … So we really have an opportunity not just to capture that savoir faire for toys that people are yearning for, but also capture where [people] want to shop. That will be unquestionably interesting post-Covid.”
WHP is backed by a $350 million equity commitment from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Governance.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.