Another chapter in the Toys “R” Us saga has begun.
New York-based brand acquisition and management firm WHP Global acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids Inc., the parent company of Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, Geoffrey Giraffe, and more than 20 consumer brands — including Animal Alley, Animal Zone, Avigo, Bruin, Dream Dazzlers, EduScience, FastLane, Imaginarium, Just Like Home, Just Like Home Workshop, Journey Girls, Koala Baby, Pavillion, Sizzlin’ Cool, Stats Sports, Totally Me!, True Heroes, and You & Me.
“Our investment in Toys ‘R’ Us reflects our belief and passion for the brand, says Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and CEO at WHP. “We are thrilled to be taking the reins of the world’s leading toy brand at a time when the category is up 16% and consumer demand for toys is at an all-time high. This is a natural fit for WHP, as we can leverage our global network and digital platform to help grow Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us around the world.”
Shmidman has served as vice chairman of Tru Kids since 2019.
Despite its struggles to relaunch Toys “R” Us in the U.S., Tru Kids generates more than $2 billion in global retail sales annually through its licensing agreements for the Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us brands. The brands maintain a presence in more than 25 countries for both physical retail locations and e-commerce sites.
The ownership of Tru Kids is comprised of WHP alongside other investment groups, including funds managed by Solus Alternative Asset Management and funds managed by the private equity group Ares Management Corporation.
Effective immediately, WHP will manage the global TRU business and direct its strategic expansion.
Since emerging from bankruptcy as Tru Kids Brands in 2019, Toys “R” Us has faced a rocky road in relaunching physical stores and e-commerce in the U.S. The company entered into a short-lived deal with Target to power digital sales for toysrus.com and a pair of new retail concept stores in Texas and New Jersey. The stores quietly closed in January.
With news of WHP’s acquisition, it appears that additional leadership changes are in progress at Tru Kids. Richard Barry, who had previously served as president and CEO is now listed as CEO emeritus and special advisor to the board on the Tru Kids website.