Toys‘R’Us, once bankrupt, plans new flagship stores

October 3, 2023

WHP Global, the parent company of Toys“R”Us, announced on Friday, September 29, that it plans to open up to two dozen flagship stores nationwide starting next year, along with shops in airports and cruise ships, reports The New York Times.

Toys“R”Us, the once ubiquitous chain that drew generations of children with its signature primary colors and its Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot, will attempt a comeback six years after filing for bankruptcy.

WHP Global—which acquired a controlling stake of Toys“R”Us in 2021—says that, in addition to the new brick-and-mortar stores, Toys“R”Us also will open shops in airports and on cruise ships through a partnership with Go! Retail Group.

The first airport shop will open in early November in Terminal A of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, ahead of the holiday shopping season, the company said.

Yehuda Shmidman, the CEO of WHP Global, said in a statement that Toys“R”Us “is growing fast and our expansion into air, land and sea is a testament to the brand’s strength.”

WHP Global—which also owns brands such as Anne Klein, Joseph Abboud, and Bonobos—did not say where the flagship stores would open. A spokesperson for the company said that “prime locations” were being identified.

Toys“R”Us signaled the start of an attempt at a comeback in 2021, when it opened a 20,000 square feet flagship store at American Dream mall in New Jersey. After that, Toys “R” Us launched 452 mini-shops inside Macy’s stores across the United States.

The comeback attempt for Toys “R” Us comes during what has been a difficult time for brick-and-mortar stores, with many closing in the past several years as they have had to contend with the continued growth of e-commerce followed by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lars Perner, an assistant professor of Clinical Marketing at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, says he would not have predicted a return of flagship Toys“R”Us stores—noting, “It’s very much of a contrarian kind of strategy when you see so many others pulling back from your brick-and-mortar retailers.”

It’s possible, Perner says, that nostalgia could play a role in driving business for the new flagship stores.

Many parents and children born after 1957 likely have fond memories of wandering giant Toys“R”Us stores filled with everything from scooters to video games to dolls and action figures

“If you have people who got gifts from Toys‘R’Us when they were growing up and now have their own children, there could be some appeal,” Perner says.

Research contact: @nytimes