WHP Global has acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids, the parent company of 20 toy and baby brands including Toys “R” Us and Geoffrey. Based in New York, the brand management firm will now lead the global Tru Kids business and its strategic expansion.
WHP Global, which owns the Anne Klein retail and fashion brand, plans to leverage its digital platform in an effort to grow the toy brands. Its CEO, Yehuda Shmidman, has served as vice chairman of Tru Kids since 2019. WHP is joining a group of existing Tru Kids investors that includes funds managed by Solus Alternative Asset Management and Ares Management Corporation’s private equity group.
Retail giant Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2017, shuttering its US operations in March 2018. In February 2019, Tru Kids began doing business as Tru Kids Brands with a number of former Toys “R” Us executives—including Richard Barry, Matthew Finigan and James Young—on board. Later that same year, Tru Kids reopened two smaller-footprint Toys “R” Us stores in Texas and New Jersey in time for the holiday season. Both of these locations were closed again earlier this year.
In 2020, former Toys “R” Us executives were sued for fraud in a lawsuit that claimed the retailer’s senior executives had misrepresented the company’s financial state to vendors before paying themselves millions in bonuses.
According to a release from WHP Global, the Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us brands generate US$2 billion in worldwide retail sales annually, with nearly 900 branded stores and e-commerce sites operating across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.