Geoffrey returns: Reimagined Toys ‘R’ Us plans comeback with new parent, Tru Kids Brands, headquartered in N.J.

By Tom Bergeron
Parsippany | Feb 11, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Toys ‘R’ Us is back. Just how isn’t as clear.

Tru Kids Inc. announced Monday it has obtained the rights to Toys ‘R’ Us, Babies ‘R’ Us, the iconic Geoffrey the giraffe and more than 20 established consumer toy and baby brands for a division that will be led by former Toys ‘R’ Us executive Richard Barry at a headquarters in Parsippany.

Just how that company will operate — whether it is relaunched as an e-commerce brand, re-establishes brick-and-mortar locations or becomes a part of other divisions of Tru Kids Inc., which will do business as Tru Kids Brands — remains to be seen.

This much is clear: Tru Kids Brands will be led by Barry, the former global chief merchandising officer at Toys ‘R’ Us. Barry will serve as CEO and president.

Joining Barry on the management team will be Matthew Finigan as chief financial officer, James Young as executive vice president of global license management and general counsel, and Jean-Daniel Gatignol as senior vice president of global sourcing and brands.

The company also appointed brand management veteran Yehuda Shmidman as vice chairman to advise on global strategy and execution. Shmidman is the CEO of Wave Hill Partners, and the former CEO of Sequential Brands Group.

Barry, in a statement, said he is confident there still is room for Toys ‘R’ Us in retail landscape.

“Despite unprecedented efforts to capture the U.S. market share this past holiday season, there is still a significant gap and huge consumer demand for the trusted experience that Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us delivers,” he said.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write the next chapter of Toys ‘R’ Us by launching a newly imagined omnichannel retail experience for our beloved brands here in the U.S. In addition, our strong global footprint is led by experienced and passionate operating teams that are 100 percent focused on growth.”

A company spokesperson said the company will have more specific information on its business plan in a future announcement — but it feels confident it will be able to leverage the value of the brand.

According to the new company, Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us generated over $3 billion in global retail sales in 2018 through more than 900 stores and e-commerce businesses in 30-plus countries across Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The company feels Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us continue to have incredibly strong brand affinity and loyalty in the United States, as they have more than 9.5 million followers across their social media channels.

Barry said he already is looking forward to the next holiday shopping season.

“We have an incredible team focused on bringing Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us back in a completely new and reimagined way, so the U.S. doesn’t have to go through another holiday without these beloved brands,” he said.

According to the company, global partners include Al Futtaim Sons Co. LLC (UAE), Green Swan (Iberia), Keshet-Hypertoy Ltd. (Israel), Lotte Shopping Co. Ltd. (S. Korea), Marketing Services and Commercial Projects Operation Co. (Saudi Arabia), Tablez & Toyz Private Ltd. (India) and Toys (Labuan) Holding Ltd. in partnership with Fung Retailing Ltd. (Asia).

Tru Kids’ global partners are set to bring Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us to more customers through the opening of 70 stores this year in Asia, India and Europe and the development of new e-commerce platforms in several key markets.

One thing is certain: Toys ‘R’ Us will not return to the retail locations consumers in New Jersey have come to know over the years. All of those locations were re-leased during the liquidation of the company.