WHP Global (“WHP”), a leading brand acquisition and management firm based in New York, today announced that it has acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids Inc., parent company to the iconic Toys”R”Us® (“TRU”), Babies”R”Us®, Geoffrey® the Giraffe brands, and more than 20 established related consumer toy and baby brands.
Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us generate over $2 billion in global retail sales annually through nearly 900 branded stores and ecommerce sites in over 25 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East.
A Toys”R”Us store.
WHP is now a significant shareholder of TRU among a group of institutional investors that includes funds managed by Solus Alternative Asset Management and funds managed by the Private Equity Group of Ares Management Corporation. Going forward, WHP will manage the global TRU business and direct its strategic expansion.
Yehuda Shmidman, Chairman and CEO at WHP commented, “Our investment in Toys”R”Us reflects our belief and passion for the brand. We are thrilled to be taking the reins of the world’s leading toy brand at a time when the category is up 16% and consumer demand for toys is at an all-time high. This is a natural fit for WHP, as we can leverage our global network and digital platform to help grow Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us around the world.”
Shmidman has extensive experience with the brands, having served as Vice Chairman of TRU since 2019.
Shmidman told CNBC this morning that they plan to open Toys “R” Us stores before the holiday season.
“There are so many malls that will no longer be in the future, so we don’t need to be there,” Shmidman said. “But we could be in malls that do have traffic. … So we really have an opportunity not just to capture that experience for toys that people are yearning for, but also capture where [people] want to shop. That will be very interesting post-Covid.”
The Toys”R”Us brand – with its famous jingle “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys”R”Us kid” – and mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe – are synonymous with the joys of childhood for millions of people around the world. For more than 70 years it has been the most trusted destination for children and parents looking for toys. Founded by Charles Lazarus, Toys”R”Us became the world’s most beloved toy store and a globally-recognized household name that to this day is a dominant leader in the toy category.
Babies”R”Us was introduced several years after the Toys”R”Us brand was founded, and it quickly became the go-to resource for all new and expecting parents, with the largest baby registry across the USA.
In addition, there are 20+ related consumer brands in the portfolio, including: Journey Girls®, Fastlane®, True Heroes®, You & Me®, Just Like Home® and Imaginarium®.
Including TRU and its fashion brands, WHP manages over $3 billion in retail sales across its portfolio of brands. WHP is backed by a $350 million equity commitment from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. with a leverage facility provided to WHP by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock.