Author: Jackie Breyer

Tru Kids Brands Officially Bringing Toys “R” Us Stores Back to the U.S. This Holiday Season

After much speculation, Tru Kids Brands, owner of the Toys “R” Us brand, announced it will bring Toys “R” Us stores back to the U.S. this holiday season. Tru Kids and b8ta, a software-powered experiential retailer, have entered into a joint venture to launch a new store experience that will deliver “the hottest toy products and brands,” carefully curated and showcased in highly immersive smaller-format spaces. The first two new Toys “R” Us stores will open this holiday season, located in The Galleria in Houston, Texas, a Simon Mall, and in Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. Brand partners...

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Commentary: What Does the Future Hold for Toys “R” Us?

Since Geoffrey LLC canceled its IP auction this week and took Toys “R” Us (TRU) and Babies “R” Us (BRU) IP in house, I’m hearing a lot of speculation about what the future holds for TRU. Geoffrey LLC is the holding company for TRU and BRU intellectual property. Now that the company has taken it back in house (under a newly restructured company made up of some of the lenders that took the retailer through bankruptcy), it has the option of either producing product under this IP itself and selling it to other retailers, licensing the IP to another...

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Saving Toys “R” Us: What Will Tomorrow Bring?

I, along with the rest of the toy industry, am extremely saddened by the closure of Toys “R” Us’ U.S. stores. Toys “R” Us played an important role in our childhoods and our children’s childhoods; it stood for fun, for play—for being a kid. When I told my dad about the impending closures, he said, “Wow, I remember standing in the aisles, waiting for the pallets of Cabbage Patch Kids to come in so I could get one for you for Christmas.” Personally, I remember buying my first bike there, buying a sandbox with real sand, and the tremendous...

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Toys “R” Us Prepares for Possible Liquidation

Bloomberg reported Toys “R” Us Inc. is making preparations for a liquidation of its bankrupt U.S. operations after so far failing to find a buyer or reach a debt restructuring deal with lenders, according to people familiar with the matter. While the situation is still fluid, a shutdown of the U.S. division has become increasingly likely in recent days, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Hopes are fading that a buyer will emerge to keep some of the business operating, or that lenders will agree on terms of a debt restructuring,...

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The Strong Announces 2017 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductees

The paper airplane, the Wiffle Ball, and the game of Clue are the latest inductees to The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame. The honorees were selected from a field of 12 finalists that also included the Magic 8 Ball, Matchbox Cars, My Little Pony, PEZ Candy Dispenser, play food, Risk, sand, Transformers, and Uno. About paper airplane: Artist and inventor Leonardo DaVinci sketched and designed flying creations using parchment in the 15th century. Later, in the early 19th century, Sir George Cayley identified four primary forces—lift, drag, weight, and thrust—which eventually helped the Wright Brothers first take flight...

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Toys “R” Us Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

Toys “R” Us Inc. last night announced that the company and certain of its U.S. subsidiaries and its Canadian subsidiary have voluntarily filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond, VA. In addition, the company’s Canadian subsidiary today intends to seek protection in parallel proceedings under the companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (“CCAA”) in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Toys “R” Us intends to use these court-supervised proceedings to restructure its outstanding debt and establish a sustainable capital structure that will enable it to invest in long-term growth. The company’s operations outside of the U.S. and Canada, including its approximately 255 licensed stores and joint venture partnership in Asia, which are separate entities, are not part of the Chapter 11 filing and CCAA proceedings. The company’s approximately 1,600 Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores around the world continue to operate as usual. Customers should expect the company’s loyalty programs, including its Rewards “R” Us, Geoffrey’s Birthday List, and Babies “R” Us Registry, to continue as normal. “Today marks the dawn of a new era at Toys “R” Us where we expect that the financial constraints that have held us back will be addressed in a lasting and effective way,” said Dave Brandon, chairman and CEO in a statement. “Together with our investors,...

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Tech 4 Kids and The Bridge Merge

Strategic Partnership Aims to Yield Growth and New Opportunities The toy industry is known for its mergers and acquisitions. They say no one leaves the toy industry—they just move around. One of the main reasons for this is the opportunity for growth. While some companies grow slowly but steadily with a hit here and a hit there, some of the most successful companies in this industry got to where they are via strategic acquisitions or mergers. Toy industry giants such as Mattel, Hasbro, Spin Master, and Jakks Pacific show how vital these moves are to taking a company to the next level. The first, critical step is finding a complementary, like-minded company with which to merge. Brad Pedersen, president and CEO of Tech 4 Kids, and Jay Foreman, president and CEO of The Bridge Direct, met at toy industry event PlayCon several years ago, where they were introduced by a mutual colleague. “This is a very social business, and while we all compete in some way, there are always opportunities and synergies that like-minded people can find to make their businesses stronger,” says Pedersen. This year, Pedersen and Foreman will merge The Bridge Direct and Tech 4 Kids into a new company focused on classic play. The new company will have an entirely new name (yet to be determined), and will be managed in North America and Hong Kong by...

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Eight Reasons Why Pokémon Go Is Succeeding Where Toys Have Failed

If you haven’t noticed the runaway success of Pokémon Go this past week, you’re living under a rock. Look outside—all those people looking at their phones, glancing around, and walking slowly into traffic (hopefully not) are playing the hottest new augmented reality (AR) game. The word on the street is that this is the future of gaming. Perhaps it is. But it’s certainly not the first augmented reality game. The toy industry has been taking shots at this category for years with little to no success. At Toy Fair 2012, WowWee introduced its App Gear line. Pop your smartphone into a physical blaster toy, and shoot at enemies who seem to appear in the real world. This type of shooting game would never fly in today’s environment, but it didn’t really fly in 2012 either. But why? Simply overlay a fun game on top of what you see through a smart device’s camera and there you have it: augmented reality. So why is Pokémon Go taking off like it’s the coolest thing we’ve ever seen? I’m betting there are a number of toy industry execs shaking their heads and asking this question. 1. Pokémon is a hot property. Sometimes it takes one of the hottest licenses to give a toy or game the notoriety it needs to get people interested. Pokémon was super hot when millennials were kids, and the...

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Adult Coloring Impact Extends Beyond Toy Industry

The adult crafting trend is carving out new opportunities for the office supplies industry, according to Adult Coloring, Crafting, and the Handmade Movement: An NPD Office Supplies Industry Report, from global information company The NPD Group. Coloring and art supplies are a $1 billion market, with in-store and online sales growing to $75 million combined in 2015. In the arts and crafts paper category, coloring pages, including adult coloring books, is the largest segment based on dollar volume, also seeing the largest store dollar growth in 2015. With paint nights and adult coloring gaining in popularity, sales of complementary products such as colored pencils, gel, and porous pens, painting accessories, and acrylic paint are driving growth within their respective categories. Chalk and chalkboard usage is also influencing industry sales, as these items are increasingly used not only for school, but for businesses, home offices, and home décor. The chalk category saw the largest in-store dollar sales increase in 2015, surpassing crayons. Both dollar and unit sales for chalkboards more than doubled in 2015 compared to the prior...

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NBCUniversal Acquires DreamWorks Animation

NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast Corporation, announced the acquisition of DreamWorks Animation. The studio will become part of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which includes Universal Pictures, Fandango, and NBCUniversal Brand Development. Under the terms of the agreement, DreamWorks Animation has an equity value of approximately $3.8 billion. DreamWorks Animation stockholders will receive $41 in cash for each share of DreamWorks Animation common stock. The agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of DreamWorks Animation and Comcast, and the controlling shareholder of DreamWorks Animation has approved the agreement by written consent.   The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2016. Following the completion of the transaction, DreamWorks Animation CEO and co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg will become Chairman of DreamWorks New Media, which will be comprised of the company’s ownership interests in Awesomeness TV and NOVA. Katzenberg will also serve as a consultant to...

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