Toys 'R' Us

Well, that was quick.  Just months after Toys ‘R’ Us declared bankruptcy and shuttered all of its stores in the U.S., it appears that the retailer is planning a comeback that could happen next month!  It seems that instead of selling off all of the assets of Toys ‘R’ Us, including intellectual properties and trademarks, to potential outside buyers, it has been decided that these assets will instead be sold to the existing controlling lenders.

A Facebook user that goes by Toy Queen attended the Fall Toy Preview in Dallas, where she encountered none other than Toys ‘R’ Us’ famous mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe, wearing a cape that read “Back from Vacation.”

After these pictures were posted online, Angelo Gordon and Solus Alternative Asset Management, creditors that are moving to take control, confirmed the plans for a revival.  (Verified by the New York Post)  Toys ‘R’ Us’ former chief merchandising officer, Richard Barry, will act as the executive vice president of the new entity, as well as the company mascot.  Yes, that’s him inside the costume.

Even after the closing of all retail stores, a skeleton crew was retained at the company’s headquarters in Wayne, NJ, and some laid-off employees have reportedly been contacted about coming back.  However some are disgruntled over the original layoffs, so they aren’t likely to return.  There are also a number of toy vendors who were hurt by Toys ‘R’ Us’ bankruptcy and closures, so it remains to be seen if those bridges are burned for good and how this will impact these relaunch plans.

As it stands, it looks as though Toys ‘R’ Us wants to launch a new concept called Geoffrey’s Toy Box, which would be small stores-within-stores.  These would be set up inside of larger stores that don’t sell toys, or maybe don’t sell very many, in what could be a mutually beneficial arrangement.  Kaybee toys and Party City had previously announced similar plans in order to fill the void left by Toys ‘R’ Us’ absence this holiday season.  FAO Schwartz has also announced plans to relaunch.

What do you think?  Are you glad that Toys ‘R’ Us could be returning?  Or does it seem fishy that it’s happening so soon after it was supposedly closing for good?

Below is the full press release issued via Toys ‘R’ Us’ website:

“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, e-commerce 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.”