On Tuesday, Toys “R” Us Inc announced that it will begin to close nearly one-fifth of its stores in the United States in the upcoming months, as the toy store chain tries to surface from one of the largest bankruptcies ever by a specialty retailer.
Beginning in early February, around 180 U.S. stores will start to shut down and continue until around the middle of April, according to a statement from Chief Executive David Brandon on the company’s website.
Brandon, who took the reigns as CEO in 2015 after heading the turnaround at Domino’s Pizza Inc, recognized the differences in the customer experience during the company’s crucial holiday season but vowed to concentrate on improving both the instore and online shopping experience for customers.
The Wayne, New Jersey-based company, is challenging the growing competition from online conglomerate Amazon.com, and intends to initiate large discounts and change up the company’s loyalty program to attract more customers.
Toys “R” Us had filed for bankruptcy protection right before the 2017 holiday season both in the United States and Canada to restructure $5 billion of long-term debt. This generated large concerns for the future of the company’s 64,000 employees and roughly 1,600 stores.
The company also also operates the infant- and toddler-focused Babies “R” Us chain, has reserved over $400 million from its $3.1 billion in bankruptcy loans for renovating Babies “R” Us stores over the next three years. The changes also included more experienced and better paid employees.
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The company has also stated that it intends to remodel several locations by converting them into co-branded Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores.
All of the 83 Toys “R” Us stores in Canada will remain open, according to the president of the Canadian unit, Melanie Teed-Murch.
As Toys “R” Us aspires to exit bankruptcy this year, the company’s efforts to reinvent its stores will influence how other retailers regard in-store shopping and how to tackle e-commerce which continues to grow in popularity.