What happened with Toys "R" Us and Target?
Toys "R" Us is making the leap back to the retail business starting by rebuilding their online presence, except that it's going to be a little different. The Toys "R" Us website is officially back up and running. You can explore the toys, as well as new content like toy videos and reviews. The content-heavy approach will continue to build, according to Toys "R" Us's parent company, TRU Kids.
TRU Kids says that they have a goal of becoming a resource for parents who need some guidance on which of the latest toys to buy and how to find the best educational tools for their kids.
In order to complete this goal, TRU Kids needed a little help to bring their website and retail business back to life. That's where Target comes in.
The decision to partner with Target came from TRU Kids seeing Target's toy business continue to explode year after year. They wanted to work with a company that had a great understanding of the toy category.
Previously, Target was helping to power the Toys "R" Us website, and the sale process couldn't be completed there. You could shop through the website, but, once you click "buy," you would be redirected to Target.com. Now, however, the redirect has changed to Amazon.com.
So is Toys "R" Us reopening or not?
In addition to rebuilding its online presence, Toys "R" Us is indeed making moves to reopen physical stores. Brand management company WHP Global has acquired a controlling interest in TRU Kids and intends to take the company in a different direction. In an interview with CNBC, Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and chief executive officer of WHP and vice-chair of TRU Kids, discussed the changeover.
Yehuda said, "We’re in the brand business, and Toys 'R' Us is the single most credible, trusted, and beloved toy brand in the world. We’re coming off a year where toys are just on fire ... And for Toys 'R' Us, the U.S. is really a blank canvas." Yehuda did however confirm that Toys "R" Us intends to open North American stores again, ideally ahead of the holiday season!
Toys "R" Us had planned on opening its first 10 stores post-bankruptcy. Two stores were set to be opened in November 2019 in the hopes of getting them up and running by the time the holidays roll around. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of these locations were not actually successful in their opening.
Yehuda laments, "The restructurings took a big toll on the company. And then COVID is, hopefully, once in a century. But now we’re getting past those two things. And the sky’s the limit." While details about upcoming store openings are very loose, there could be stores in many different formats: flagships, pop-ups, airport locations, or mini-stores inside other retailers’ shops.
The re-structuring of Toys "R" Us could also see the removal of previously announced stores in malls. Yehuda explains, "There are so many malls that will no longer be in the future, so we don’t need to be there. But we could be in malls that do have traffic ... So we really have an opportunity not just to capture that experience for toys that people are yearning for, but also capture where [people] want to shop. That will be very interesting post-COVID."
It sounds like while the previous attempts at re-opening Toys "R" Us were hopeful, this is finally the real deal! WHP Global has not yet detailed how many stores they will open across North America, but rest assured, they're on the way.