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Toys 'R' Us says it will shut a fifth of its U.S. stores; Nashua Babies 'R' Us on list

By Ismail Shakil

January 24. 2018 2:42AM

Toys “R” Us Inc said on Tuesday it will shut about one-fifth of its stores in the United States -- a list that includes the Babies "R" Us location in Nashua -- in the coming months as the toy store chain tries to emerge from one of the largest ever bankruptcies by a specialty retailer.

The closure of about 180 U.S. stores will begin in early February and continue until mid-April, Chief Executive David Brandon said in a letter on its website. The website also noted that “the list of closing stores is subject to change pending court approval.”

Brandon, who joined as CEO in 2015 after spearheading a turnaround at Domino’s Pizza Inc, acknowledged gaps in customer experience during the vital holiday season but pledged to focus on improving shopping experience, both at its stores and online.

The Wayne, N.J.-based company, contesting growing competition from regional independent toy retailers and online giant, will also roll out deep discounts and revamp its loyalty program to lure more shoppers.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection just ahead of the 2017 holiday season in the United States and Canada to restructure $5 billion of long-term debt, casting doubts over the future of its 64,000 employees and nearly 1,600 stores.

Toys “R” Us, which also operates the infant- and toddler-focused Babies “R” Us chain, has set aside more than $400 million out of its $3.1 billion in bankruptcy loans for sprucing up stores over the next three years with more experiences and better-paid staff.

The company said it plans to remodel a number of locations by converting them into co-branded Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores, while also investing in websites.

All 83 Toys “R” Us stores in Canada will remain open, said president of the Canadian unit, Melanie Teed-Murch, in a letter to customers.

As Toys “R” Us aims to exit bankruptcy in 2018, its efforts to reinvent its stores will shape how other retailers look to experiential shopping to tackle e-commerce.

The list of stores marked for closure can be found in the court motion, which can be viewed here.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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