Although it is unlikely that the giant warehouse format stores will return to the UK anytime soon, the Toys ‘R’ Us brand may be on the brink of a UK revival. Owner WHP Global has lined up a deal with Toys ‘R’ Us Australia to lead the brand’s return to the UK.
Online sales will begin over the “next several months” and will initially the business operate out of its Australian based business.
The company suggest that from 2022 UK teams, offices and logistics will be created to support the retail offer both online, and through a retail store network.
The toy store famous for its advertising jingle and giraffe mascot, Geoffrey collapsed in 2018, and shut all 100 UK stores.
Dr Louis Mittoni, CEO of Toys R Us ANZ, said: “Tailoring our successful Australian relaunch plan to the UK echoes the success of the other e-commerce ‘platform play’ businesses that have delivered growth and value due to their ability to quickly and cost effectively expand their software, process, partner relationships and brands into new countries. Since Toys ‘R’ Us return to Australia in June 2019, we have scaled quickly as customers returned to the much loved brand and our e-commerce model has proven its success”
Since the pandemic has fuelled online shopping across the globe, sectors such as the toys and games industry have also experienced an uplift. Global toy sales hit $95billion in 2020 which was a growth of 2.6pc from 2019.
Toys ‘R’ Us currently has over 900 stores worldwide and e-commerce sites across 25+ countries, creating over $2billion a year in sales.
It is clear why the UK would be a highly coveted target market as toy sales reached £3.3 billion last year. The territory is the largest toy market in Europe, and fourth largest in the world. During lockdown in March 2020, British consumers upped their spend on toys and games by 22% in a bid to keep everyone entertained safely at home. There is clearly an opportunity for the UK online toy market that Toys ‘R’ Us owners will want to maximise.
At the same time, the traditional toy-store is awaiting a reincarnation. There is a generation of children who want to enjoy something that is more experiential than boxes piled up floor to ceiling.
Children and fun-seekers want a place to play, not just to shop. CAMP in America are doing just this with exciting spaces that have experience-based activities and layout. The family experience retailer has eight stores, most in the New York region, each with a significant focus on enjoyment and connectivity for customers. Whilst colleagues from the store engage, play and empower younger shoppers, the environment also encourages children, siblings and parents to reconnect and play and learn together.
With it’s mystery entrance in the 5th Avenue store, it has more than it’s share of ‘Willy Wonka’ style magic to make it a memorable trip for shoppers. Whether CAMP has international plans or Toys ‘R’ Us are prepared to bring a new era of toy retail to UK shores, there will be only so much space in the marketplace for pure resellers. Consumers are ready to engage with the theatre of toy-shopping once more.