WHP Global takes controlling stake in Tru Kids with expansion plans for Toys R Us, Babies R Us

The New York brand acquisition and management firm, WHP Global has taken a controlling interest in Tru Kids Inc, the parent company to Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Geoffrey the Giraffe brands, and more than 20 established consumer toy and baby brands.

Under the acquisition, WHP will now manage the global TRU business, spanning brick and mortar and digital retail spaces, as it acts to direct its strategic expansion.

WHP has now become a significant shareholder in the Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands which combined generate over $2 billion in global retail sales a year through almost 900 branded stores and ecommerce sites across more than 25 countries.

The move follows a year in which the toy sector has seen a growth across its biggest markets, including the US where, despite the struggles of the pandemic, the industry grew 16 per cent.

WHP is now one among a group of institutional investors in the Tru Kids Inc company, joined by funds managed by Solus Alternative Assets Management and funds managed by the Private Equity Group of Ares Management Corporation.

Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and CEO at WHP, said: “Our investment in Toys”R”Us reflects our belief and passion for the brand. We are thrilled to be taking the reins of the world’s leading toy brand at a time when the category is up 16 per cent and consumer demand for toys is at an all-time high.

“This is a natural fit for WHP, as we can leverage our global network and digital platform to help grow Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us around the world.”

Shmidman has extensive experience with the brands, having served as Vice Chairman of TRU since 2019.

For more than 70 years, Toys R Us it has been a destination for children and parents looking for toys. Founded by Charles Lazarus, Toys”R”Us became a globally-recognized household name.

Babies”R”Us was introduced several years after the Toys”R”Us brand was founded, and is recognised as having the largest baby registry across the USA.

In addition, there are more than 20 related consumer brands in the portfolio, including Journey Girls, Fastlane, True Heroes, You & Me, Just Like Home, and Imaginarium.

Including TRU and its fashion brands, WHP manages over $3 billion in retail sales across its portfolio of brands. WHP is backed by a $350 million equity commitment from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. with a leverage facility provided to WHP by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock.