NEWS

TRU has new owners in WHP Global and teases return to US retail

Published on: 16th March 2021

WHP Global has acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids, parent company to Toys R Us, Babies R Us and Geoffrey the Giraffe brands.

WHP has revealed that it hopes to launch a number of new Toys R Us stores in the US ahead of the 2021 holiday season, with the first store reported to be about to open.

Leading brand acquisition and management firm WHP Global has acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids Inc, parent company to the Toys R Us, Babies R Us and Geoffrey the Giraffe brands. As well as managing the iconic brands, WHP Global will take charge of more than 20 related consumer brands, including Journey Girls, Fastlane, True Heroes, You & Me, Just Like Home and Imaginarium.

WHP Global is now a significant shareholder of TRU among a group of investors that include funds managed by Solus Alternative Asset Management and the Private Equity Group of Ares Management Corporation. Going forward, WHP will manage the global TRU business and direct its strategic expansion.

Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and CEO at WHP commented: “Our investment in Toys R Us reflects our belief and passion for the brand. We are thrilled to be taking the reins of the world’s leading toy brand at a time when the category is up 16% and consumer demand for toys is at an all-time high. This is a natural fit for WHP, as we can leverage our global network and digital platform to help grow Toys R Us and Babies R Us around the world.”

“We’re in the brand business, and Toys R Us is the single most credible, trusted and beloved toy brand in the world,” Yehuda added. “For Toys R Us, the US is really a blank canvas.”

Although the iconic toy and baby brands will be managed by WHP, chairman Yehuda Shmidman will bring extensive experience, having served as vice chairman of TRU since 2019.

The TRU stable of brands is thought to generate over $2b in global retail sales annually through nearly 900 branded stores and eCommerce sites in more than 25 countries.

Tru Kids has already tried opening two pop-up locations in the US with help from tech platform b8ta. However, they both closed earlier this year due to poor footfall, which has been especially suppressed during the Covid pandemic. Focusing its efforts on online, Tru Kids enlisted retailer Target to power a Toys R Us website. This arrangemnt was short-lived and purchases on ToysRUs.com are now redirected to Amazon.

“The restructurings took a big toll on the company,” explained Yehuda Shmidman. “Covid is, hopefully, once in a century. But now we’re getting past those two things, and the sky’s the limit.”

Including TRU and its fashion brands, WHP now manages over $3b in retail sales across its portfolio. In 2020, the company launched WHP+ (www.whp-plus.com), a direct to consumer digital eCommerce platform, with full in-house operations including technology, data analytics, logistics, creative and digital marketing. For more information, visit www.whp-global.com.

Toy World understands that an announcement will shortly be made concerning the first Toys R Us store to open in the US. According to sources familiar with the situation, the store will reportedly open at the American Dream mall in New Jersey. The three million square feet American Dream retail and entertainment complex has been described as “the unrivalled destination for indoor family entertainment,” with features including a Nickelodeon theme park, a DreamWorks Water Park and an indoor skiing facility, along with retail stores. Unfortunately, the launch of the mall’s retail element was delayed when the Covid pandemic struck last year, just weeks before it was due to open. We will bring you more news on the new Toys R Us store when it is released.

 

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