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New Toys “R” Us owner plans expanded Canadian presence, improved website


New shops, new toys and a listing of 100 concepts to develop the corporate.

That’s what Doug Putman has in thoughts for Toys “R” Us and Infants “R” Us Canada as soon as he finalizes a deal to amass the retailer’s 81 places.

Putman Investments introduced it might bought the Vaughan, Ont.-based toy and kids’s retailer from Fairfax Monetary Holdings Ltd. final week for an undisclosed sum. Fairfax will obtain a royalty stream and preserve the actual property it acquired when shopping for the retailer in 2018, whereas Putman Investments will management the shops.

Putman, the founder and proprietor of music retailer Dawn Data, has a document of helming retail turnarounds, having launched the T. Kettle chain of tea retailers in former DavidsTea places early within the pandemic. He additionally purchased the Canadian belongings of HMV again when the British music retailer went bankrupt.

Toys “R” Us is his newest problem. The corporate collapsed in 2017 amid slipping gross sales and mounting debt. It buckled below intense value competitors from mass retailers like Walmart and Amazon, although consultants criticized the corporate for failing to replace its enterprise mannequin at the same time as client behaviour modified and demand for on-line buying elevated.

However the COVID-19 pandemic supplied an unlikely coincidence for the retailer. Dad and mom caught at house throughout lockdowns scrambled to search out distractions for his or her freshly home-schooled kids, shopping for toys that may preserve them from video-bombing each day Zoom conferences.

In response to NPD Group, a market analysis agency, toy gross sales throughout the trade surged by 15 per cent globally within the first half of 2021. Toy gross sales have been led by out of doors and sports activities toys, together with dolls and constructing units. Staple gaming manufacturers like Pokemon, Barbie and Star Wars have been among the many prime promoting merchandise.

The increase could have resurrected the Toys “R” Us model. On Thursday, New York-based retailer Macy’s introduced plans to open 400 Toys “R” Us shops inside its shops beginning subsequent 12 months. And Putman says now’s the prospect to spice up the model’s gross sales in Canada.

“Our perception is we’re going to see great development over the approaching years,” Putman instructed the Star. “As mother and father preserve their children away from iPhones and iPads, we expect we’re going to see phenomenal gross sales in out of doors toys and academic studying actions.”

Already, Putman is eyeing a number of Canadian expansions. The corporate has a listing of 100 concepts to develop, he instructed the Star, together with opening new brick-and-mortar shops within the subsequent 12 to 18 months. The plans additionally embody utilizing present shops as locations the place children may host birthday events or eat meals. Seizing on a requirement for toys devoid of display know-how, Putman says he additionally desires to increase the shops’ collections of youngsters books.

The web site will even doubtless bear some modifications to higher compete within the on-line buying world, he mentioned.

“If we will make the shops extra pleasant and the web site extra user-friendly, there’s a variety of development potential on these two parts alone,” he mentioned.

“We want a hybrid of in-person and on-line shops. We’re going to deal with enhancing our on-line presence, however we’d like locations the place children can go in-person, too.”

The corporate’s most respected asset, finally, is its identify, Putman mentioned.

“Canadians know this model. They keep in mind rising up with it. So when the chance got here as much as purchase it, it appeared like an apparent enterprise we’d need in our portfolio.”



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