Toys R Us is planning a brick-and-mortar comeback in the U.S., with up to 24 new flagship stores
Toys R Us is plotting a bold comeback in the U.S., as it plans to expand its brick-and-mortar presence with as many as 24 new flagship stores and a separate rollout at airports and on cruise ships starting this holiday season.
The toy retailer’s parent company, WHP Global, announced what it called the “Air, Land and Sea” expansion on Friday. Toys R Us aims to start opening the up to two dozen flagship stores as early as next year in partnership with Go! Retail Group. The company plans to roll out the locations in “prime cities” that complement its current retail footprint, WHP said.
The first airport store is set to open in November, in time for the holiday season, in Terminal A of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the world’s second-busiest airport.
“The Toys R Us brand is growing fast and our expansion into air, land and sea is a testament to the brand’s strength,” said Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and CEO of WHP, in a statement.
The expansion plan continues a slow revival of the once ubiquitous brand.
Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in 2017, though it could not come out of it on its own, pushing it into liquidation. In January of that year, the company operated 1,691 stores and licensed 257 stores across 38 countries, according to an SEC filing. WHP acquired a controlling interest in Toys R Us’ parent company, Tru Kids, in 2021. The company planned to open more Toys R Us stores across the country, after the brand’s only two remaining locations in the U.S. closed earlier in 2021.
At the time, Shmidman said he hoped to open a combination of flagship, pop-up and airport stores as the country emerged into a post-Covid retail landscape. In summer 2021, WHP announced a rollout of more than 400 new Toys R Us stores at Macy’s locations across the country.
In a Friday statement, Shmidman said the company has increased Toys R Us’ global footprint by more than 50% since the acquisition, with upward of 1,400 stores and e-commerce sites across 31 countries.
One of those stores is its current flagship two-level store at the American Dream megamall in New Jersey. The 20,000 square foot location includes experiences for kids such as a two-story slide, café and ice cream shop.
WHP told CNBC the new flagship stores will be modeled after the American Dream location with “immersive” shopping experiences. But the New Jersey store will likely remain the largest location.
The expansion also will bring stores to airports and cruise lines as the company looks to keep up with the rise of travel retail. The first-of-its-kind store at the Dallas airport, in a partnership with Duty Free Americas, will allow customers to shop for their favorite toys and regional merchandise before hopping on a flight, and the company also plans to offer a range of toys and cruise-themed merchandise for that industry.
The Toys R Us brand generates more than $2 billion in global retail sales annually, WHP said.