March 15 (UPI) — The iconic Toys R Us brand got its second new owner in less than four years Monday when WHP Global announced it has acquired a controlling interest in the retailer’s parent company.
New York-based WHP, which also owns the Anne Klein luxury clothing and Joseph Abboud men’s fashion lines, did not disclose the sale price for TRU Kids Inc., owner of the Toys R Us, Babies R Us and Geoffrey the Giraffe brands.
The retailer declared bankruptcy in 2017. At its peak in the 1990s, it had more than 1,400 locations and claimed 25% of the global toy market.
WHP Chairman and CEO Yehuda Shmidman, who has served as TRU Kids’ vice chairman since 2019, said the acquisition is “a natural fit” for his company, “as we can leverage our global network and digital platform to help grow Toys R Us and Babies R Us around the world.”
With the investment, WHP will take control of TRU Kids’ business model and “strategic expansion” at a time when consumer demand for toys is at an all-time high, Schmidman said.
TRU Kids’ other shareholders includes funds managed by Solus Alternative Asset Management and the Private Equity Group of Ares Management Corp.
Several Toys R Us executives and creditors formed TRU Kids in 2017 to purchase the brands and intellectual property, including the iconic Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot, after the chain went out of business following a disastrous Christmas season.
They have since tried several strategies to revive the brands’ fortunes, including opening several pop-up stores.
Their efforts, however, were stymied by a drastic drop-off in mall traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic.