Toys "R" Us may close all stores

Toys

While the large toy manufacturers will be forced to change distribution and marketing strategies, smaller toymakers may be squeezed as Toys "R" Us represented the largest sales channel for some of the smaller firms.

Toys R U.S. isn't alone. It had initially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which reorganizes debt. The goal was to renegotiate the company's $5 billion debt load, which it has carried since a leveraged buyout in 2005.

Facing broader concerns about the brick-and-mortar industry, the company was finally pushed to hire debt-restructuring advisers a year ago. But, the news service noted, one of its sources cautioned "that the situation remains fluid".

A JPMorgan-led bank syndicate and a group of existing lenders initially agreed to commit $3.1 billion in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing to support operations during the restructuring.

In January, the toy retailer announced that it would close 180 of its stores, following a poor holiday shopping season. Bigger rivals like Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. would typically take a more cautious approach. As competition increased as department store toy sections grew and with the coming of e-commerce companies led by Amazon, Toys "R" Us ran out of time. Toys R Us' sales, traffic and profit all fell far short of what it had told lenders to expect.

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Claire's Stores Inc., another chain that sells some toys, also is said to be nearing bankruptcy - though it's not at the point of being shut down.

Up until the late 90s, Toys R Us was the top United States toy seller. And though the company hadn't reported an annual profit since its 2013 fiscal year because of interest payments, its operating income had risen 22 percent, to $460 million.

The liquidation plan could mean the closing of stores throughout MA, including its Springfield location.

Toys "R" Us Inc. doesn't sell the most toys in the USA - that distinction goes to Walmart Inc. - but it has remained a key proving ground for kids' gadgets, games and other playthings.

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