April 6, 2018
So when you analyze the key component of chairman and CEO Jerry Storch's game plan for growth—opening stores that combine the Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us formats and integrate the juvenile products category with toys—then it truly adds new meaning to going back to the roots of the company. (See this month's cover story "Toy Authority".)
With four such combination stores open this fall (Elizabeth, N.J.; Redland, Calif.; Goodyear, Ariz.; and Wesley Chapel, Fla.), this format will help drive new growth again for the venerable retailer that hasn't opened new stores in the United States in several years.
In addition, international expansion continues to be an important part of Storch's game plan.
Last month, TRU opened an exclusive licensed in-store boutique for Ben 10, based on the Cartoon Network's property. It reflects the retailer's commitment to licensing as a strategy to differentiate from mass and discount retailers and offer product exclusives.
These three factors—toys/juvenile format, international expansion, and exclusive licensing and merchandising—exemplify the core of Storch's turnaround strategy. The other key factors that TRU must address as part of its turnaround are its $6 billion debt load; lessening the dependence on holiday sales and building more consistency year-round; and further enhancing the brand image among consumers. Millions of consumers and baby boomers in particular grew up with TRU and have a special fondness for the concept—they remember the jingles, Geoffrey the Giraffe, and the original concept.
TRU founder Lazarus, who's been away from the company for 14 years, told me in an interview in 2004 that TRU was all about "fun."
And now, Storch says he's in the game to win and to make TRU the global toy authority. Storch and his "dream team of retailing executives" are making themselves part of the TRU legacy, turning around the company and having some fun doing it.
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