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Toys "R" Us was an international childrens toy, clothing, and baby product retailer founded by Charles Lazarus that is now known as Tru Kids, Inc. (dba Tru Kids Brands) and various other names around the world still today. They are based in Paramus, New Jersey (?) and had operated a network of toys stores called Toys 'R' Us since 1957.


They were originally founded in April 1948, in Washington, D.C. as Children's Bargain Town (Supermart). Initially they sold children's furniture until Lazarus added toys to his business plan and eventually shifted his primary focus to them. Their headquarters were then located in Wayne, New Jersey, near the New York metropolitan area.

The first full on toy store opened in June 1957, In Rockville, Maryland, as Toys "R" Us . Lazarus also designed and stylized the Toys "R" Us logo, which featured a backwards "R" to give the impression that a child had written it.

In 1966, they were acquired by Interstate Department Stores, Inc. (?)

Their in house diecast brand was called "Fast Lane" and was offered as an alternative low budget diecast toy product to their customers. Vehicles from Moose Mountain, Motormax, Realtoy, Road Champs, Summer, Suntoys, Yat Ming and Zylmex were used over time to fill these offerings successively.

A Ha Toys made a 4 casting series for the Toys 'R' Us "Fast Lane" brand label called "Tiny Tuners".

Playart imported their casting models to regional Canadian Toys 'R' Us stores.

In 1993 (?), The Original Toymakers marketed a diecast series called "Junkyard Fizzlers" at Toys R Us locations in Canada.

They also have marketed Auto World, Greenlight, Hot Wheels, Johnny Lightning, M2, Matchbox and most recently Majorette. Along with many other name brand manufacturers over time. In Japan, they also offered Hongwell made diecasts.

In May 2000, the board of directors installed John Eyler formerly with FAO Schwarz) as CEO. Eyler began plan to remodel and re-launch the chain.in light of market pressures from competiters like Walmart and Target). Part of the restructure was to split its toy and baby businesses

On March 17, 2005, a consortium of Bain Capital Partners LLC, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Vornado Realty Trust announced a $6.6 billion leveraged buyout of the company. Public stock closed for the last time on July 21, 2005 at $26.75. This was a 63% increase in value since it was first announced that the company was put up for sale. Toys "R" Us then became a privately owned entity after the buyout. The company still files with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as required by its debt agreements. (It is not clear if this was related to a previous bankruptcy or the 2017 bankruptcy.)

In December 2013, just before Christmas, Toys "R" Us announced their stores in the United States would stay open for 87 hours straight. The flagship store of the retailer in Times Square was open for 24 hours a day from December 1 to 24, to cater to tourists.trade. This announcement came after snow and rain had caused a nearly 9 percent year-over-year decline in U.S. store foot traffic. This move also pushed the retailer to hire an additional 45,000 seasonal workers to cater to the demand of the extended store hours.across the USA. Since the toy business is incredibly seasonal, more than 40% of the company's sales come in during the fourth quarter of the year.

In 2014, Toys "R" Us announced its "TRU Transformation" strategy, which concentrated on efforts to fix foundational issues affecting future growth, including making stores less cluttered, improving the customer experience, clearer pricing strategies and promotions, and tighter integration of its retail and online businesses.

In 2015, the company launched the first of a new concept store called the "Toy Lab" in Freehold, New Jersey. The new layout provided more space for interactive exhibits and areas to play with new toys before purchase. This concept was expanded to stores in California, Delaware, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania

At their heyday, the company had been in the toy business for more than 65 years and operated around 800 stores in the United States and another 800 outside the U.S.A.

But on September 18,2017, Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Reasons given for the move were flexibility to deal with $5 billion in long-term debt, to borrow $2 billion so it could pay suppliers for the upcoming holiday season and invest in improving current operations. They had not had an annual profit since 2013 though. And it reported a net loss of $164 million USD in the quarter ending on April 29, 2017. It had also lost $126 million USD in the same period in 2016.] They had also been paying $400 million USD per-year to service its debt, which had prevented it from investing in improvements to its in-store experiences and to compete with Amazon and Walmart. Although the "retail apocalypse" was a factor, some analysts cited that the rapid increase in debt occurred under its private equity ownership.

Their British operations entered into administration (bankruptcy) in February 2018.

In March 2018, the company announced that it would close all of its U.S. and British stores with the British locations closing on April 24, 2018 and their USA locations on June 29th.

On April 21, 2018 locations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland were taken over by Smyths Tosy and rebranded.

On April 24, 2018, the Canadian division was sold to Fairfax Financial and would continue to operate these locations under the Toys "R" Us name.

The Australian wing of Toys "R" Us entered into voluntary administration on May 22 and closed all of its stores on August 5, 2018.

Operations in other international markets such as Asia and Africa were less affected, but chains in Canada, other parts of Europe and Asia were eventually sold to third-parties.

They continued to operate as the licensure of the chain's international operations, but its lenders announced in October 2018 that it planned to re-launch the U.S. Toys "R" Us retail business in the future. The lenders also partnered with Kroger (grocery) stores to add "Geoffrey's Toy Box" (named after the chain's mascot) pop-up departments in selected locations to give Toys "R" Us a presence during the coming holiday shopping season.

On January 20, 2019, the company emerged from bankruptcy as Tru Kids. To date, there are only two brick and morter locations open in the United States.

Later in 2019 they had reopened a few pop up locations within other retailers and two new retail locations.



Sourced references -

https://www.toysrus.com/PressRelease.html
Encyclopedia of Small-Scale Diecast Motor Vehicle Manufacturers - Sahakangas, Foster & Weber (2006)
 
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