Toy sellers skeptical of Toys ‘R’ Us execs’ comeback plan
Toys ‘R’ Us is making a comeback — but not everyone wants to play.
Former senior executives of the bankrupt retailer are trying to revive Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us brands’ stores through a new entity called Tru Kids Inc.
The company announced the plan Monday, confirming an exclusive Jan. 24 report by The Post — and drawing sneers from toy sellers who say they were misled by some of the same executives when they were working for Toys ‘R’ Us, including Tru Kids Chief Executive Richard Barry.
“I’m certainly skeptical when I read a statement like ‘new management team,’ ” said Jay Foreman, chief executive of Basic Fun, which lost roughly $6 million in the bankruptcy. “These are the same leaders and same financial partners that were around for the demise of the company.”
Toymakers like Basic Fun, which sells popular toys such as Uncle Milton’s Moon in my Room and Lite Brite, said they were encouraged by executives, including Barry, to put their worries aside during and after the bankruptcy and continue to ship merchandise to Toys ‘R’ Us.
Later, they were told they would get just pennies on the dollar — or nothing at all — for their loyalty, they said.
“We first need to get paid for [a] portion of the over $17 million TRU owes us before we consider doing any business with them,” Isaac Larian of MGA Entertainment, maker of L.O.L Surprise, told The Post about doing business with Tru Kids.
“I’d listen to Richard’s pitch and plans but would not open my doors to their development team until I learned more,” Foreman added.
In an interview with The Post, Barry apologized for any losses by toymakers before insisting that vendors were open to the new company.
“We fully appreciate the impact of the bankruptcy and for that we are very sorry,” Barry told The Post. “What I’m hearing from vendors … is that they value what TRU brought to the consumer,” he added.
Indeed, some toy sellers say they are eager to learn more, including Wicked Cool Toys Co-president Michael Rinzler. “It’s the early days in understanding what they are trying to do,” he said “We separate the financial side from the emotional side.”
But toy consultant Richard Gottlieb said the company may have its work cut out repairing bridges it burned back well before the bankruptcy.
“The challenge for Tru Kids will be to overcome the hard feeling built up over decades of suppliers being bullied by Toys ‘R’ Us,” Gottlieb said. “Right up to the end, the company was threatening toy companies with delistings if they did not provide sufficient credit.”
Tru Kids is owned by a group of hedge funds that owned Toys ‘R’ Us secured debt, including Solus Alternative Asset Management and Angelo, Gordon & Co.
The new entity owns the licensing rights to Toys ‘R’ Us, Babies ‘R’ Us and about 20 other established consumer toy brands.
Barry said he and his team have been working “24/7” to bring the toy retailer back to markets where it disappeared, including the US, the United Kingdom and Australia. The company currently operates in 30 countries around the world with 900 stores and has $3 billion in sales, he said.
“The brand is healthy and happy,” he said.
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