Toys 'R' Us returns to Australian shores

Toys 'R' Us returns to Australian shores

Beloved toy retailer Toys 'R' Us will return to Australian markets this month, bringing Babies 'R' Us along for the ride.

The US-based parent company of both brands has announced an exclusive licencing agreement with Hobby Warehouse.

The deal will see Hobby Warehouse sell through the www.toysrus.com.au and www.babiesrus.com.au websites for Australia and New Zealand.

The brand's return to Australia comes just under a year after the company fell into administration following its demise in Australia and overseas.

While there is nothing set in stone, Toys 'R' Us' parent company Tru Kids indicates physical stores will be on the cards from 2020 in the form of 'experience centres'.

Same day delivery will be available in metropolitan Melbourne in the short term through the new online portals. This is expected to be expanded to other metropolitan areas in Australia and New Zealand as time goes on.

"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," says Hobby Warehouse chief executive Louis Mittoni.

"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."

"Hobby Warehouse is a digital native with a keen understanding of how to accelerate and match the requirements of the modern shopper."

Toys 'R' Us traditionally sold from large, physical retail spaces, making this move online all the more interesting. The diversion to online, with anticipated 'experience centres', makes this manoeuvrer one to watch for Australian retailers.

Prior to its demise in 2018 Toys 'R' Us operated 44 retail stores across Australia and employed around 700 permanent staff.

Voluntary administrators McGrath Nicol were called in when a final bidder in the sale process for Toys 'R' Us withdrew its interest.

Tru Kids is a newly incorporated entity, founded on 20 January 2019 after it took over the intellectual property of the Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us brands. The previous US parent of the brands, Toys 'R' Us, went bankrupt in June 2018.

Tru Kids executive vice president James Young says the company is poised to give the brands a second life in Australia.

"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," says Young.

"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."

Tru Kids' 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.

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