Iconic brick-and-mortar retailers are sometimes reinvented, and return to the world of retail with smaller-format concepts. The parent of the Toys R Us brand, Tru Kids, plans to bring stores under the legendary name to the United States for the 2019 holiday season. Tru Kids has entered into a joint venture with the software-powered experiential retailer b8ta to offer a new store experience with curated toys in “highly immersive, smaller-format spaces.”
The stores are said to serve as destinations – places where children can play with the most popular and latest toys. At the same time, parents can “have fun with their children and ignite their own childlike sense of play.” The locations will also include interactive components with new activities and events with brand stations.
New Jersey’s Westfield Garden State Plaza and Houston’s The Galleria will be home to the first two new Toys R Us stores, which are said to be opening this holiday season.
Richard Barry, CEO of Tru Kids and interim co-CEO of the new Toys R Us joint venture, said in an announcement, “With a 70-year heritage, the Toys R Us brand is beloved by kids and families around the world, and continues to play a leading role in the hearts and minds of today’s consumers.”
Barry continued, “We have an incredible opportunity to entirely reimagine the Toys R Us brand in the U.S., and are thrilled to partner with b8ta and key toy vendors to create a new, highly engaging retail experience designed for kids and families, to better fit within today’s retail environment.”
Through the experiential retail model of b8ta, brands will reportedly be able to display their items in an environment that is described as “playground-like” and “interactive.” They can also design branded shops and custom experiences to create memorable experiences for children and parents. The environment is said to tap into b8ta’s Retail as a Service (RaaS) platform, which lets brands “actively manage their in-store experiences and measure how offline experiences translate into online sales,” per the announcement.
In June of last year, Toys R Us closed the last of its 700 brick-and-mortar locations. That news came after reports emerged in April that the retailer was no longer accepting online orders through its website. But, with the latest reinvention of the brand, the chain’s legacy may live on in the digital era of retail.
In Other Brick-and-Mortar News
Barneys New York is reportedly preparing for a bankruptcy filing with a liquidity crunch brought on by a rise in rent at its New York City flagship. The luxury retailer is said to have engaged law firm Kirkland & Ellis and financial advisers M-III Partners to help with the preparations. The advisers are said to be looking into many options, including filing for bankruptcy, securing further financing or pursuing a sale.
As a company spokesperson told the outlet, “At Barneys New York, our customers remain our top priority, and we are committed to providing them [with] the excellent services, products and experiences they have come to expect. Our Board and management are actively evaluating opportunities to strengthen our balance sheet and ensure the sustainable, long-term growth and success of our business.”
In other news, Gourmet grocer Dean & DeLuca continues to struggle due to increasing competition. The grocer is reportedly dealing with bare shelves and lawsuits over unpaid bills, following over four decades in business. The firm has also closed a number of U.S. locations, with only four stores currently in operation in the country.
While Dean & DeLuca built its business by offering customers a variety of upscale gourmets that couldn’t be found anywhere else, items are now readily available at chains such as Whole Foods (as well as its parent Amazon) and Trader Joe’s. Joshua David Stein, a food writer and restaurant critic, said in an interview with Bloomberg, “They were the first store in New York to offer extra virgin olive oil. Now Amazon has extra virgin olive oil. Everyone has extra virgin olive oil.”
And cannabis operator Curaleaf Holdings has announced it will acquire GR Companies (“Grassroots”), the largest private vertically integrated multi-state operator, in a cash and stock deal valued at around $875 million. The deal is said to make Curaleaf the world’s largest cannabis company by revenue, and the largest in the United States. It will also expand Curaleaf’s presence from 12 to 19 states.
Curaleaf CEO Joseph Lusardi said in a press release, “With a combined 68 open dispensaries, this transaction significantly accelerates our expansion strategy and strengthens our reach across the medical and adult-use markets. In addition, it enhances the depth of our retail and wholesale platform across the country.”
To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.