Toys 'R' Us to shut a fifth of its US stores

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Toys “R” Us says it will shut 180 US stores between February and April, as the chain tries to emerge from one of the largest ever bankruptcies by a specialty retailer.
A woman shops at a Toys 'R' Us store in Alhambra, California, on Dec 19, 2017. PHOTOS: AFP

BENGALURU (REUTERS) - Toys 'R' Us Inc said on Tuesday (Jan 23) it will shut about one-fifth of its stores in the United States in the coming months, as the toy store chain tries to emerge from one of the largest ever bankruptcies by a speciality retailer.

The closure of about 180 US stores will begin in early February and continue until mid-April, chief executive David Brandon said in a letter on its website.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection just ahead of the crucial holiday season in the US and Canada to restructure US$5 billion (S$6.6 billion) of long-term debt, casting doubt over the future of its 64,000 employees and nearly 1,600 stores.

All 83 Toys 'R' Us stores in Canada will remain open, said president of the Canadian unit, Melanie Teed-Murch, in a letter to customers.

Toys 'R' Us, which like other traditional brick-and-mortar retailers has struggled as more and more consumers shop online, is taking steps to try and entice customers to its stores.

The retailer planned to close unprofitable locations and improve its website and loyalty programmes while investing in its stores, according to bankruptcy court papers.

Toys 'R' Us, which also operates the Babies 'R' Us chain, has set aside more than US$400 million out of its US$3.1 billion in bankruptcy loans for sprucing up about 900 stores over the next three years with more experiences and better-paid staff.

As the company aims to exit bankruptcy in 2018, its efforts to reinvent its stores will shape how other retailers look to experiential shopping to tackle e-commerce.

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