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Following our story from the other week, it looks like Toys R' Us is already poised for making a comeback here in the United States after just a few months ago declaring bankruptcy and closing all their US based stores. So last week we told you how it looked as if the Toys R' Us controlling lenders had a last minute change of heart about selling off all the companies assets because they decided the brand was just two valuable. Toys R' Us that same day released a press release posted on their website which says the following: "Geoffrey, LLC, Toys “R” Us, Inc.’s intellectual property holding company subsidiary, announced today that it is moving forward with a plan for substantially all of its assets to be acquired by a group of investors led by Geoffrey, LLC’s existing secured lenders. The announcement was made following a five month marketing effort by Boston-based Consensus, an investment bank retained to market the assets of Geoffrey, LLC, that resulted in several formal and informal proposals to acquire the intellectual property assets. After considering such proposals, it was determined that the proposal from the existing term lenders was meaningfully higher and better than any other global bid or the sum of the bids received on individual assets. The transition of the business to its new owners is pending approval of the United States Bankruptcy Court and all major creditor constituencies are supportive. Geoffrey, LLC thanks all parties that participated in discussions with the company over the prior months, particularly those that submitted proposals, for their thoughtful and diligent engagement. Geoffrey, LLC, as reorganized, will control a portfolio of intellectual property that includes trademarks, ecommerce assets and data associated with the Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us businesses in the United States and all over the world, including a portfolio of over 20 well-known toy and baby brands such as Imaginarium, Koala Baby, Fastlane and Journey Girls. The reorganized company will own rights to the Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us brands in all markets globally, with the exception of Canada. It will also become the licensor of the brands to the company’s existing network of franchisees operating in countries across Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and in South Africa. In addition to continuing to service these markets, the new owners are actively working with potential partners to develop ideas for new Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores in the United States and abroad that could bring back these iconic brands in a new and re-imagined way. Geoffrey LLC will provide additional detail on this front as it becomes available." Then last Tuesday Geoffrey, the Toys R' Us mascot turned up at the annual Dallas Toy Preview show wearing a cape that said back from vacation. and having a booth called Geoffrey's Toy Box. On the Dallas Toy Preview show website there is a description for Geoffrey's Toy Box which reads as follows: "Wholesale toy distributor and intellectual property company whose focus is on popular play patterns across trusted brands that kids and parents love. Geoffrey's Toy Box is a fully outfitted organization with design, development and global sourcing expertise. Portfolio includes popular brands like Journey Girls, Fastlane, True Heroes, You & Me, Imaginarium, Just like Home and more!" According to various reports, the Geoffrey's Toy Box reps who were at the Dallas show were telling folks their plan is to open consumer locations under the Toy Box name by November of this year. These will be done as a “shop-within-a-shop” concept where at least initially they will partner with prominent midwest retailers. In other words they will be opening for the holidays mini-locations within larger retail stores that might not normally sell much in the way of toys. This is similar to the plan we heard several months ago when Toys R' Us first went under about KB Toys trying to make a return. Other retailers such as Party City have also indicated they will be implementing similar strategies as they all try and fill the toy store void during this busy holiday shopping season. The big question however remains, will any of them really be able to compete against the likes of Walmart and Amazon?
According to a report by the WSJ it looks like Toys R' Us' controlling lenders have had a change of heart and decided to revive the Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us names in the United States with retail stores. Apparently at the last minute someone decided the brand was just to valuable to kill off. There aren't a lot of specific details at this time, but if you thought you were going to have to grow up after all 735 stores in the US closed a few months ago, I guess you were wrong. Stay-tuned for more details on this as they become available.