Our No. 1 priority is to solidify the U.S. retail strategy for Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us,” Barry says.
Toys ‘R’ Us has officially emerged as a new company—Tru Kids Brands—with new leadership and a new retail strategy that will include an omnichannel approach and smaller footprint.
As of January 20, 2019, the new company, Tru Kids Inc., doing business as Tru Kids Brands, went into effect as the parent company of Toys ‘R’ Us, Babies ‘R’ Us, the well-loved mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe along with more than 20 established consumer toy and baby brands.
Richard Barry, the former global chief merchandising officer at Toys ‘R’ Us, will serve as president and CEO of Tru Kids Brands. An experienced management team is also in place that includes Matthew Finigan as CFO, James Young as executive vice-president of global license management and general counsel, and Jean-Daniel Gatignol as senior vice-president of global sourcing and brands. Brand management veteran Yehuda Shmidman will serve 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.
As the realities of Q4 2018 toy sales come to light, Barry says the newly formed company is seizing this moment as an opportunity to tap into the continued strong affinity for the Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us brands. In the U.S., the brands have more than 9.5 million followers across their social media channels. In Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the brands generated more than $3 billion in global retail sales in 2018 across more than 900 stores and e-commerce businesses in more than 30 countries.
“As we start the year there is a lot to be excited about,” Barry says. “We have a healthy and growing global business with great partners that are 100 percent focused on opening more stores and e-commerce channels in their respective markets. We have an experienced team with unmatched industry expertise in the toy and baby space and a clear understanding post-holiday of the opportunity that still exists in the U.S. marketplace.
Looking forward, the company’s No. 1 priority will be to “solidify the U.S. retail strategy for Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us,” says Barry. “While I can’t say today what that exact strategy is, we do know that we will have an omnichannel approach that is tech immersive and experiential with a smaller footprint. I’ve spent my entire adult career working at Toys ‘R’ Us and feel proud to be a part of ensuring the next chapter of this iconic brands lives on.”
As of now, global partners include Al Futtaim Sons Co. LLC (UAE), Green Swan (Iberia), Keshet-Hypertoy Ltd (Israel), Lotte Shopping Co. Ltd (S. Korea), Marketing Services and Commercial Projects Operation Company (Saudi Arabia), Tablez & Toyz Private Ltd. (India), and Toys (Labuan) Holding Ltd. in partnership with Fung Retailing Ltd. (Asia). The company will work closely with each to expand the Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us businesses in their respective markets as well as actively seek opportunities to bring the brands to new and emerging territories.
These global partners are set to open 70 stores in 2019 in Asia, India and Europe and develop new e-commerce platforms in several key markets.
Tru Kids will be headquartered in New Jersey, just as the original company was, with a skilled team that will include returning Toys ‘R’ Us employees. Tru Kids will serve as the parent of brands including Toys ‘R’ Us, Babies ‘R’ Us, Geoffrey the Giraffe, and house brands Journey Girls, Fastlane, True Heroes, You & Me, Imaginarium, and Just Like Home.
“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.
Toys ‘R’ Us announced its plans to liquidate its U.S. stores last March. Further updates on the Tru Kids Brands’ U.S. business strategy are expected to follow.