Approximately a year after Toys “R” Us entered voluntary administration and closed all its Australian stores, the American-founded toy chain is back to make its debut in New Zealand.
Tru Kids, the US-based parent company of Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us, has forged an exclusive licensing agreement with Hobby Warehouse which will see the brands return to the Australian market, and launch online in New Zealand.
Tru Kids is a new company run by several former Toys “R” Us executives. Established in January this year, its license partners currently operate over 700 Toys“R”Us and Babies”R”Us branded stores and ecommerce sites in more than 25 countries across Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, with over US$3 billion of retail sales attributable to the brands in these regions in 2018.
According to Forbes, it plans to open 70 stores this year in Asia, India and Europe.
The Australasian agreement announced yesterday includes the rights for Hobby Warehouse to sell through Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us websites for Australia and New Zealand. The sites are expected to launch this month, with same-day delivery to be provided in New Zealand metropolitan areas soon.
Hobby Warehouse intends to launch physical “experience centres” for Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us from 2020.
Hobby Warehouse hief executive Louis Mittoni says: “We are delighted to bring the much-loved brands of Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us back to Australia and to introduce them to New Zealand. We believe play is extremely important in the development and wellbeing of children and in their interaction with family and friends. Play enables children to develop their imagination, collaborate, problem solve, explore, create or simply express themselves spontaneously.
“Our mission is to encourage children to engage with as many forms of play as we possibly can. Hobby Warehouse is a digital native with a keen understanding of how to accelerate and match the requirements of the modern shopper.”
The company’s commercial advisor Kevin Moore says that going forward, the business model will be different to that of the pre-administration Toys “R” Us. Forbes puts Toys “R” Us’s downfall down to not embracing digital transformation early enough, treating digital as ancillary and trusting Amazon to run its ecommerce business.
Moore says: “Previously, the Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us business model in Australia was focused primarily on large, physical retail stores which had high fixed costs and extended periods of relatively low sales due to seasonal factors. Going forward, the business model for Australia and New Zealand will be online focused, with smaller and fewer physical ‘experience centres’ that allow children and their families and friends to see and touch our products.”
Tru Kids executive vice president of global licensing and general counsel, James Young, said: “We are thrilled to partner with Hobby Warehouse to bring Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us back to Australia and to launch in New Zealand. Louis Mittoni and his team have a strong digital vision and understand both the heritage of our iconic brands and how to evolve the shopping experience for the modern consumer. This is an exciting milestone for our company as we continue to grow Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us around the world.”