Exclusive: Dr Louis Mittoni on the UK return of Toys R Us

Published on: 3rd November 2022

Dr Louis Mittoni, CEO and managing director of Toys R Us ANZ, talks about the retailer’s plans for a physical retail presence and what comes next following the launch of its website.

Toys R Us closed the doors of its remaining UK stores in April 2018. The retailer had been a household name for decades, its jaunty jingle and Geoffrey the giraffe mascot known to countless kids (and parents), and its stores essentially playgrounds for shoppers both little and large that drew huge crowds to out of town retail parks. And then, rather suddenly, it was gone.

That is until October last year, when Toys R Us ANZ Limited and WHP Global – the parent company of Toys R Us and Babies R Us – announced they’d signed a long-term exclusive licence agreement for Toys R Us ANZ to run digital and physical retail commerce for Toys R Us and Babies R Us in the UK, tailoring the model it had used to successfully relaunch Toys R Us Australia to the UK market.

Toy World has reported throughout on the building of the retailer’s experienced buying team, which boasts over 120 years of combined experience, and Toys R Us UK’s new website was soft launched at the end of September, initially to a modest but nonetheless positive reception. Owing in part to Toy World’s coverage of the launch, word quickly spread and soon the servers were straining under the load as visitors flocked to check out the new site. In addition to high consumer interest, Dr Louis Mittoni, CEO and managing director of Toys R Us ANZ – which last year acquired the rights to run digital and physical retail commerce for Toys R Us and Babies R Us in the UK – says he’s been delighted at the level of support offered by suppliers. Over 100 suppliers are on board, resulting in some 4,500 toys – and counting – available across the Toys R Us site, and an additional 1,300 products on Babies R Us.

“Just as it always has, Toys R Us really wants to support smaller suppliers,” he says. “The retailer has long been proud to give less mainstream toys, and the toys of the future, a fair shot. We’ve had to be selective initially about which suppliers we could launch with. When we first put out the call for interest in November 2021 we were absolutely inundated with enquiries, and as we work through the launch, we’ve had to be mindful of keeping things manageable for all parties. We are, however, intending to circle back to quite a few that we didn’t onboard for the launch, which will grow our supplier base across all categories over the coming months.”

To find out what else Louis had to say, including on the challenges and opportunities presented by the economic conditions in the UK and the investment that’s gone into Toys R Us’ big comeback, read the full interview that was published in the November issue of Toy World.


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