Toys R Us is being revived, but it probably won’t be the store you remember

A Toys R Us store in Bangalore, India.

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A Toys R Us store in Bangalore, India.
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TRU Kids Brands

  • Former Toys R Us properties and trademarks have organized into a new company called Tru Kids Brands, it announced on Monday.
  • The new company holds rights to develop new Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores. It also owns all of Toys R Us’ private toy and baby brands and the world-famous Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot.
  • Still, the company has shed all of its employees, most of its leadership, and all of its US stores, so don’t expect it to look or feel like the Toys R Us of yore.

Toys R Us is coming back – but don’t call it a comeback.

Former Toys R Us properties and trademarks have organized into a new company, according to a press release it released on Monday.

Called Tru Kids Brands, the new company holds rights to develop new Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores. It also owns all of Toys R Us’ private toy and baby brands and the world-famous Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot.

Its new CEO is Richard Barry, who will also serve as president. Barry previously served as CMO for the previous incarnation of Toys R Us.

“We have an incredible team focused on bringing Toys R Us and Babies R Us back in a completely new and reimagined way, so the US doesn’t have to go through another holiday without these beloved brands,” Barry said in a statement.

Taking that statement at face value, it’s difficult to predict what a reconstituted Toys R Us will actually look like. “A completely new and reimagined way” could mean many different things, but one thing is for sure: it likely won’t be the Toys R Us everybody remembers.

It will have new management, new employees, and new stores to go along with its new name. Some new employees will be rehired for the company’s new headquarters in New Jersey, but it’s unclear how many and what their roles will be.

Some of Toys R Us’ former management team is returning, including Matthew Finigan as CFO, James Young as EVP of global license management and general counsel, and Jean-Daniel Gatignol as SVP of global sourcing and brands.

Though Tru has not explained what its strategy will be in the US, it will be built from the ground up.

More than 700 US Toys R Us stores were liquidated in 2018. It’s safe to say it’ll be a while before Tru gets to that scale, if it ever does reach it.

But not having some of the hallmarks of the old Toys R Us also means that Tru won’t be saddled with its baggage: a weak and stunted online shopping platform and a mountain of debt, the payments of which prevented profits from going into reinvestment.

Tru also holds the international licenses for Toys R Us brands and properties that haven’t been sold off and will be opening 70 more stores in Asia, India, and Europe.

Read more: A toy exec explains the biggest reason why hot toys will be so hard to find this year

There is certainly room for a new dedicated toy store in the absence of Toys R Us, as other stores’ increased toy sales were not able to fill the hole the toy chain left during 2018’s holiday shopping season.

“Several factors added up to a smaller share of wallet for traditional toys in 2018, including a shrinking retail footprint and the increasing demand for video games,” Frédérique Tutt, the global toys industry analyst at NPD Group, said in a press release.

Barry is counting on that – along with the nostalgia for the Toys R Us brand – to pull the new company through.

“Despite unprecedented efforts to capture the US market share this past holiday season, there is still a significant gap and huge consumer demand for the trusted experience that Toys R Us and Babies R Us delivers,” Barry said.