After a few years of economic turmoil, Toys “R” Us looks like its turning the corner following a strong holiday season and posting a 25% increase in earnings, after adjustments, to US$800 million in 2015.
The global toy retailer also saw sales grow by 2.3% in Q4 2015 and 0.9% for the full year. However, with much of its growth coming from international sales, which have increased for eight consecutive quarters, TRU has been falling victim to the negative impact of currency conversion.
The fourth quarter’s 3.9% international growth was largely attributed to an increase in learning category sales, which was partially offset by a decline in entertainment (including electronics, video game hardware and software). Domestically in Q4, the retailer’s sales grew by 1.2%, thanks to an increase in the core toy and learning categories, which was partially offset by sales declines in the entertainment and baby categories.
Net sales for the quarter came in at US$4.85 billion, a decrease of US$130 million. However, excluding negative foreign currency conversions, net sales increased by US$39 million as a result of growth both domestically and internationally, which was partially offset by domestic store closures. All things considered, TRU’s net earnings in Q4 were up by 4.14% to US$276 million from the previous year.
Turning to full-year results, international sales were up by 3.2%, driven again by gains in the learning and baby categories, partially countered by a decline in entertainment sales. In the US, sales decreased by 0.6% because of lower sales in the entertainment and baby categories.
For 2015, consolidated net sales were US$11.8 billion, a decrease of US$559 million compared to the prior year. But when the negative impact of foreign currency conversion, to the tune of $US571 million, is taken into account, net sales were up due to increases in same-store sales internationally. Net sales also benefited from new store opens internationally and were partially offset by domestic store closures. All told, TRU’s net loss in 2015 was US$130 million, compared to a net loss of US$292 million in 2015, an improvement of 55% or US$162 million.
Furthermore, the New Jersey-based company also made large strides to improve efficiency via its 2014 Fit for Growth initiative. In 2015, TRU managed to save US$307 million in sales and general administration expenses. And the balance of the US$325 million target outlined in the transformation strategy is expected to be realized by the end of fiscal 2016.
Of note, TRU has debt payments of US$1.2 billion due in 2017 and US$668 million in 2018.