Bankruptcy move '˜won't affect' Toys '˜R' Us stores in UK

Toys'R'Us has assured consumers its stores will remain open after filing for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada ahead of the crucial festive season amid mammoth debts and increasing online competition.

Pic Lisa Ferguson 27/10/2015
Toys R Us, Livingston
Pic Lisa Ferguson 27/10/2015 Toys R Us, Livingston

America’s largest toy stores chain, which has around 1,600 stores worldwide and nearly 65,000 employees, said most of its shops remained profitable and would operate “as usual” while it looks to restructure a 5.6 billion US dollar (£3.6 billion) debt mountain.

It also confirmed its stores outside of North America - including the UK and Europe, Australia, as well as around 255 licensed stores and a joint venture in Asia - were not affected by the so-called Chapter 11 filing.

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The group has 110 stores and more than 2,500 staff across the UK, but stressed its European arm was a separate entity to the North American business. The Chapter 11 filing comes ahead of the all-important Christmas season, which makes up a large chunk of the group’s annual sales.

It is the latest example of turmoil in the retail industry as the shift online takes its toll on established players. Dave Brandon, chairman and chief executive of Toys’R’Us, said: “We are confident that we are taking the right steps to ensure that the iconic Toys’R’Us and Babies’R’Us brands live on for many generations.”

He added: “As the holiday season approaches, our global team members are ready to serve the millions of kids and families who will be shopping with us.”

The group’s history dates back to the 1950s and it arrived in the UK in 1985 with just five stores. It launched its UK website in 1996. The group confirmed it was opening further shops in the UK, with four more planned before Christmas in High Wycombe, Sunderland, Blackburn and Craigleith in Scotland. The group is also revamping its flagship stores in Bristol and Brent Cross shopping centre in London. Toys’R’Us has struggled with debt since private-equity firms Bain Capital, KKR & Co and Vornado Realty Trust took it private in a 6.6 billion dollar buyout in 2005.