Tru Kids, which owns brands including Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Geoffrey the Giraffe, and more than 20 toy and baby brands tried to revive the famed toy store chain with an online store and two brick-and-mortars in 2019 but was forced to change course due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both physical stores have closed. Toys R Us’ website remains active, and sales are done through Amazon.
WHP is now a significant shareholder of Tru among a group of investors including funds managed by Solus Alternative Asset Management and funds managed by the Private Equity Group of Ares Management Corporation.
Moving forward, WHP will manage the global Tru business and direct its strategic expansion. Toys R Us and Babies”R” Us together generate more than $2 billion globally each year through about 900 branded stores and eCommerce sites in over 25 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East.
“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,” WHP Chairman and CEO Yehuda Shmidman said in a prepared statement.
Shmidman served as vice chairman of Tru since 2019 when the company emerged as a Toys R Us revival. The iconic retailer had failed to survive bankruptcy in fall 2017 and ultimately closed its stores in summer 2018.
Acquiring a controlling interest in Toys R Us and related brands is a “natural fit for WHP,” Shmidman said, which “can leverage [its] global network and digital platform to help grow Toys R Us and Babies R Us around the world.”
With the addition of Tru, WHP manages over $3 billion in retail sales annually across all retail brands. It owns Anne Klein and Joseph Abboud and is backed by a $350 million equity commitment from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management LP with a leverage facility provided to WHP by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock.