“We’re putting a for sale sign on everything,” the Wall Street Journal quotes CEO David Brandon as telling Toys R Us employees Wednesday. The company, which started as a baby furniture store following WWII, will be closing or selling its over 700 US stores, putting up to 33,000 jobs at risk. NPR reports the writing has been on the wall for Toys R Us for some time, despite accounting for around 20% of all US toy sales in 2017. The toy-seller has been unable to put much of a dent in the nearly $8 billion of debt it largely acquired in a 2005 buyout, according to the Washington Post. It filed for bankruptcy in September and announced it was closing 182 stores in January. "The last six months have been pure hell," the Journal quotes Brandon as saying.
Toys R Us has been hurt by competitors with better deals like Amazon and Walmart, and Brandon says sales during the most recent holiday season were "no short of devastating." Brandon says shoppers who failed to support Toys R Us in the past year "will all live to regret what's happening here." A group of toy makers—to which Toys R Us owed over $21 million when it filed for bankruptcy—is seeking to buy up to 400 stores to continue operating under the Toys R Us name. Brandon says "all anyone has to do is offer one dollar more" than what liquidation firms are offering. Employers were told store closures would be spread out over months. Toys R Us will reportedly pay employees at least 60 days of salary and benefits. (Read more Toys 'R' Us stories.)