Last December, Toys ‘R’ Us opened its first U.S. flagship following its 2018 bankruptcy, just in time for the holiday shopping rush. This year, the retailer has its sights set abroad, with the debut of new ecommerce flagships for both Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us in the UK just weeks before the official kickoff of the holiday season.
The launch of the UK websites coincide with the rollout of Toys ‘R’ Us shops at Macy’s across the U.S., and seem to point to a turning of the tides for the beleaguered toy chain, which has struggled to find a solid foothold since closing all of its U.S. locations four years ago.
The new UK websites have launched with more than 300 brands, alongside content and expert guides designed to reintroduce Brits to both banners. The sites are operated under a licensing agreement between Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us parent company WHP Global and Toys ‘R’ Us ANZ, the exclusive license partner for both brands in Australia and the UK. Toys ‘R’ Us ANZ relaunched the brand’s website in Australia in 2019.
NPD estimates that the total addressable market for toys and games in the UK for 2021 was £3.7 billion (approximately $4.1 billion), representing the largest toy market in Europe and the fourth largest globally. A brick-and-mortar return to the UK could be next for Toys ‘R’ Us, if WHP follows a similar pattern to its U.S. comeback, which saw first the October 2019 launch of an ecommerce site, followed by physical stores in various shapes and sizes (not all of which survived, although the pandemic was certainly a contributing factor). WHP has been involved in the brand’s resurrection since 2019, but didn’t acquire its controlling stake until 2021.
“Since acquiring the brand in March of last year, we have grown its global footprint by 50% and we are still in early innings for what customers can expect from both Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us as we head into 2023,” teased Yehuda Shmidman, Chairman and CEO of WHP Global and Toys ‘R’ Us in a statement.