Defunct toy retailer Toys R Us is set to make a comeback in Australia, a year after its high-profile collapse during which its assets were liquidated.
Toys R Us Australia went into voluntary administration in May 2018, following months of speculation about its ongoing viability. Stock was liquidated and stores subsequently closed nationwide.
The announcement that it will make a comeback was made in a post on its social media profiles on Wednesday morning (5 June), which included a 15-second video of a young child dressed as a pirate who says “we’re coming back to play”.
The post directed users to the retailer’s website, which includes a countdown clock, which is counting down to next Wednesday, 12 June.
In a statement, also posted on the website, it was revealed the comeback of Toys R Us and its offshoot Babies R Us is thanks to a deal between Hobby Warehouse in Australia and Tru Kids Inc, the US parent company of the brands.
“The new licence agreement, effective today, includes rights for Hobby Warehouse to sell through the www.toysrus.com.au and www.babiesrus.com.au websites for Australia and New Zealand,” it said.
The resurrected retailer will focus more heavily on the online space than on reviving its previous store network. Although it will look to reinstate a physical presence.
Commercial adviser Kevin Moore, who helped broker the deal, said it will mark a change of direction for the brand in Australia.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
According to the statement, “Hobby Warehouse will initially launch Toys R Us and Babies R Us online in Australia and New Zealand in June this year, featuring a wide range of toys and baby products at competitive prices”, it said.
“Same-day delivery will be available in metropolitan Melbourne in the short term, which will be expanded to other metropolitan areas in Australia and New Zealand in the medium term.
“Hobby Warehouse aim[s] to launch physical ‘experience centres’ for Toys R Us and Babies R Us beginning in 2020.”
Louis Mittoni, Hobby Warehouse’s chief executive, said his company is “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,” he said.
“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.”
Hobby Warehouse said that it will continue trade online alongside Toys R Us, and will “continue to market and sell hobby products to teenagers, younger adults and older adults”.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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