Toys R Us To Return To The UK – Good News, But It Won’t Be Easy
Most toy people welcomed the recent news that Toys R Us will return to the U.K. The Toys R Us brand is still known, trusted and even loved by UK consumers based on conversations we have had. While there will inevitably be some negative baggage around based on the way TRU went out of business and approach to suppliers as the business unravelled, having more toy retail would normally only be regarded as a good thing.
It won’t be easy though for the new iteration of Toys R Us in the UK for a number of reasons:
Firstly, the UK has two of the healthiest and most successful toy specialist chains in the UK already in Smyths Toys & The Entertainer. These two chains had already benefited in some ways from the death of Woolworths in the UK back in the late noughties, and another primary beneficiary of the demise of Woolworths was B & M the clearance/bargain store chain which has taken over quite a few of the old Woolworths stores in prime spots on UK high streets. Between these three major players in the UK toy market, and the other key players then, there is less of an obvious gap for the return of Toys R Us in the UK then there would be in the USA for instance.
Another key point is that the UK return is reported to be including both a physical and online business. The online business has not got any easier either since Toys R Us went into administration in the UK back in 2018. Amazon has a gargantuan online share and are not easy to compete with, Argos has moved much more towards an online model either with delivery or click & collect. And again, back to the incumbent specialist chains in the market – both Smyths & The Entertainer have successful online operations also. Additionally, the sometimes under valued but critical UK independent retail sector has also seen a pivot towards online sales, use of social media for local promotions and events with product demonstration.
More toy retail should be welcomed, as normally the more retail outlets there are, the greater the total sales, even if this costs some market share to existing players, the overall sales numbers usually go up or down to some degree dependent on store count & active participation via e-commerce. Also, to reiterate, there is significant consumer goodwill to the Toys R Us brand in the UK. But there return won’t be easy, and there business model and management will need to be sharper than sharp to succeed. We wish them all the best of fortunes!
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