Newest Toys R Us owner plans to reopen some US stores before 2021 holiday season

NEW YORK — Brand management company WHP Global announced Monday that it has acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids Inc. and could resurrect some Toys R Us locations before the end of 2021.

Tru Kids is the parent company of the Toys R Us, Babies R Us and Geoffrey the Giraffe brands.

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Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and chief executive officer of New York-based WHP, told CNBC that the plan is to reopen Toys R Us stores in various formats across North America, including flagship stores, pop-ups, airport locations or mini stores inside other retailers and that, ideally, a number of those stores could be operational ahead of the 2021 holiday season.

“There are so many malls that will no longer be in the future, so we don’t need to be there, but we could be in malls that do have traffic,” Shmidman told the network.

“So we really have an opportunity not just to capture that experience for toys that people are yearning for but also capture where [people] want to shop. That will be very interesting post-COVID-19,” he added.

According to CNBC, Tru Kids bought the brands and intellectual property from Toys R Us after the iconic toy retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but a disastrous 2017 holiday season prevented the company from exiting bankruptcy, forcing its liquidation.

Shmidman has served as Tru Kids’ vice chairman since 2019.

“We’re in the brand business, and Toys R Us is the single most credible, trusted and beloved toy brand in the world,” Shmidman told the network. “We’re coming off a year where toys are just on fire. ... And for Toys R Us, the U.S. is really a blank canvas.”

According to market research company NPD Group Inc., overall U.S. toy sales surged 16% in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press reported.

WHP Global already owns Anne Klein and Joseph Abboud and acquired the controlling stake in Tru Kids on Friday, but financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.