The UK toy retail landscape is set for a big change, as Toys R Us confirmed today that at least 26 UK stores will close.
Toys R Us UK will close one quarter of the chain’s store, with at least 26 branches closing and around 800 jobs at risk. The BBC reported today that the stores set to close will cease trading in Spring 2018. Toys R Us spokespeople were keen to emphasises that trading will continue throughout the Christmas period.
A little more detail is provided in the BBC coverage:
Managing director Steve Knights said the chain’s “warehouse style stores”, which it opened in the 1980s and 1990s, had become “too big and expensive to run in the current retail environment”.
It currently employs 3,200 people and said it would, where possible, aim to redeploy staff affected by the shop closures.
Toys R US said online shopping would be unaffected by the plans and that there would be no changes to its returns policies or gift cards across the festive period.
The UK business is understood to have made a loss for seven out of the past eight years of trading. Mr Knights said the firm had instigated a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which enables a company to agree a plan to pay the money it owes while continuing to trade.
The CVA proposal will be voted on by creditors on 21 December.
“If approved by the creditors, the CVA plan would substantially reduce the UK company’s rental obligations and allow the business to move to a new, viable business model,” Mr Knights added.
The UK arm of Toys R Us is owned by the US company, but run as a separate business. In recent years, basic city centre stores have opened in shopping centres as part of an attempt to improve the company’s fortunes. Out of town stores, with a much larger footprint, have begun to look tired as over a sustained period old stock fills gaps where new products have not been delivered.