Toys ‘R’ Us to relaunch Australian stores

Toys ‘R’ Us is set to be reborn in Australia.

Toys ‘R’ Us has revealed the extend of its relaunch in Australia, just 12 months after shutting up shop amid ongoing retail woes.

New stores, a major online presence and an increased focus on “experiences” are now central to the toy juggernaut’s plan to win back Australian buyers.

The global toy chain, which tried but failed to find a buyer prepared to run the business in Australia, went into voluntary administration and closed its 44 stores nationally in June last year, resulting in 700 job losses.

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But the brand appears destined for an Aussie comeback, underpinned by a new online store and a number of smaller ‘bricks and mortar’ outlets across the country.

According to Inside Retail, last month the company – now owned by US-based TRU Kids Brands – announced a partnership with Hobby Warehouse to open small format Toys ‘R’ Us stores in city centres in Australia and to relaunch Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us e-commerce sites in Australia and New Zealand.

On Monday, it opened an online store on eBay Australia, while a recent promotional teaser video pointed to more announcements in the near future.

A Toys ‘R’ Us spokesperson confirmed to Inside Retail that physical stores were again in the company’s strategy, despite the increasing impact of online retail, with plans to open a number of large-format outlets along the eastern seaboard as early as 2020.

“We knew that eventually we wanted to get that experience back, because a lot of toys, and certainly high-end toys, are experiential,” the spokesperson said.

“After that (we will open what) we call ‘retail-lite’ stores. They’re basically smaller footprint stores. All stock is on the floor, there’s no storage space out the back. It’s impulse items under $30 for sale there, and anything over $30 is buy-in-store, ship-to-home.”

According to the spokesperson, the ‘retail-lite’ stores are likely at least two years away, while physical stores will be heavily linked to online shopping and delivery.