Toys R Us names familiar face to lead U.S. store efforts

The group trying to bring back the Toys R Us brand has named a new president to run the joint venture overseeing operation and management of its planned retail stores in the U.S., it announced Thursday.

Jamie Uitdenhowen, a former chief merchandising officer at Party City, will be president of Toy Retail Showrooms LLC. That company represents a joint venture of Toys R Us’ Parsippany-based parent, Tru Kids Brands, and b8ta, a California-based software-powered experiential retailer.

“This is an exciting time for the company, as we get closer to bringing back Toys R Us stores to the U.S. this holiday season,” Richard Barry, CEO of Tru Kids and interim co-CEO of the new joint venture, said in a prepared statement. “Having already worked with Jamie for many years, I am confident that his retail experience and leadership will have a significant impact on our success in the United States, as we work to rebuild this beloved brand.”

In his new role, Uitdenhowen will oversee day-to-day business operations, new experiential store development and vendor partnerships leading up to the brand’s U.S. relaunch in the fall, and beyond, Tru Kids said in a news release.

“Toys R Us is an iconic brand known for delivering the best toy experience for kids and families,” he said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to be returning to help drive the next chapter of this beloved retail brand in the U.S.”

The first two new Toys R Us stores are slated for Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus and the Galleria in Houston, with a planned holiday season opening.

Before joining Party City, Uitdenhowen had spent more than 18 years with Toys R Us Inc., serving as vice president and general manager and overseeing merchandising decisions.

“Having previously worked with Jamie, I’m excited for his return to the Toys R Us team,” Phillip Raub, co-founder and president of b8ta and interim co-CEO of the joint venture, said in a statement. “His knowledge of the industry and vision for building a dynamic experience for kids and families make him the ideal fit for our business moving forward.”