Toys ‘R’ Us is sold again as WHP Global takes controlling stake

Richard Clough

Toys “R” Us has a new owner as the retailer that once dominated the market for children’s playthings seeks a path back to relevancy.

WHP Global will take a controlling stake in Tru Kids Inc., an entity that acquired the brand’s intellectual property during the retail giant’s 2018 liquidation. The buyer will manage the business and “direct its strategic expansion,” according to a statement Monday. Financial details weren’t disclosed.

A closed Toys R Us building sits in front of an empty parking lot, Wednesday, May 6, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.

We're offering a great deal on all-access subscriptions. Check it out here.

The sale marks another turning point in the tortured recent history of Toys “R” Us, which defined the toy industry for generations of Americans in the 20th Century. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 amid crushing debt and rising competition from online sellers such as Inc.

With the chain’s U.S. stores closed, the Toys “R” Us name has been used in recent years for a website that markets toys and then directs shoppers to another retailer to make purchases: originally Target Corp., then more recently.

Tru Kids opened two U.S. stores in 2019, but those locations closed recently due to the crippling effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the broader retail industry. This incarnation of Toys “R” Us is on a long list of retailers damaged by Covid-19 after governments forced nonessential chains and malls to close and then put restrictions on operations.

Yehuda Shmidman, WHP’s chief executive officer, has been on the Tru Kids board since 2019. WHP is backed by a $350 million equity commitment from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management.

Tru Kids, started by a former Toys “R” Us executive to revive the brand, has been owned by investment funds including Solus Alternative Asset Management, which will remain a shareholder.