We gave it a brief mention lately, but it’s come to our attention that this very pressing development where LEGO product retail availability is concerned, has not been touched by us here at The Brick Show. Toys ‘R’ Us has been a major distributor among retail chains carrying LEGO brand, so its current state warrants coverage.
Anyway, earlier this week on Monday, December 4, Toys ‘R’ Us announced its intention to close up to 26 of its retail stores in the UK, a move that could have significant repercussions in the country’s general toy retail scene. Those 26 branches after all, are a fourth of the UK’s total, and with them 800 jobs would be lost.
This sad news is inevitable in the breakneck changes that have been wrought to how retail in the world works these days. Toys ‘R’ Us grew in the days of “warehouse-style” chain stores, in stark contrast with today’s online shopping revolution. The only comfort to be had is that the actual closures won’t happen until the spring of 2018, so doing Christmas shopping is still on.
Toys ‘R’ Us UK is owned by the larger, US-based TRU company, but is run separately. Their managing director Steve Knights has noted that the firm’s British business has been operating at a loss of seven out of the past eight past years leading to financial woes with creditors. They plan to present a company voluntary arrangement proposal (CVA) for the creditors to vote on by December 21, enabling Toys ‘R’ Us UK to pay their credit even as they continue retailing.
In that way, Knights said, TRU can cut down on their store space rental obligations and thus help to change over to a new business model that will be more consistently profitable.
We’ve covered several recent LEGO Events done at UK Toys ‘R’ Us stores before, so while the end of some of them is still far off, it leaves a sad undercurrent for something that seems so inevitable. And the other LEGO retailers have been taking advantage of the whole thing too.