Coronavirus had put the future of the European toy store chain in jeopardy, but a buyer has now been found.
The French Gueydon family, the main shareholder of the King Jouet toy chain, has acquired Maxi Toys in a deal that will save the majority of both the jobs and stores.
Portuguese investment fund Green Swan acquired all of Maxi Toys’ activities, shops and logistics operations for an undisclosed sum from its former owner Blokker Holding in January 2019. In February 2019, Maxi Toys also acquired 39 stores of the Belgian toy chain Bart Smit. The coronavirus pandemic then took its toll on Maxi Toys, leaving the chain facing bankruptcy in May of this year. When news of the retailer’s precarious situation broke, the acquisition of the loss-making Bart Smit was also listed as a major factor. The company was left both unable to pay its bills and secure capital with which to bail itself out.
However, the acquisition – which will allow Maxi Toys to restart and move forward as an independent chain under its new owners – has saved some 826 of 1,200 jobs, and 117 stores. Six stores will close in Belgium, along with 34 stores in France, leaving the two toy store chains with nearly 350 stores between them, and a yearly turnover of approximately €400m.
Maxi Toys CEO Alain Hellebaut is also staying on in the role. He commented: “I look forward to starting the collaboration with King Jouet. Our brand was in trouble, but now has a healthy and solid foundation.” Alain also urged people ‘not to forget’ the employees whose jobs could not be saved.
The takeover comes just in time for the all-important Christmas season, and will allow the retailer to tap into King Jouet’s strengths in the digital arena.