Toys R Us sales woes may have been sign of what was to come

Industries Associated Press

(Reuters)

Toys R Us, trying to reorganize under bankruptcy leading into the holiday season, was seeing overall sales fall and those at established locations drop even more sharply as it was heading for a Chapter 11 filing.

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Weaker sales illustrated the difficulty the retailer was having amid more intense competition from businesses such as Amazon and Walmart that can offer lower prices. Toys R Us was already hamstrung by $5 billion in debt.


The toy retailer that also owns the Babies R Us chain says that for the three months ended July 29, sales fell to $1.46 billion from $1.56 billion. Even more telling was its same-store sales, considered a key indicator of a retailer’s health. That figure tumbled 6.4 percent in the quarter. A year earlier, those sales edged up 0.5 percent. Toys R Us said the same-store sales decline was due to softness in the U.S. and Canadian markets. Domestically, same-store sales fell 6.8 percent from a year earlier, and in Canada they declined 3.3 percent.

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Weaker sales illustrated the difficulty the retailer was having amid more intense competition from businesses such as Amazon and Walmart that can offer lower prices. Toys R Us, which runs around 1,600 stores, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this month as it heads into the all-important holiday season, which makes up around 70 percent of annual toy sales. Toys R Us has said that it has received $3.1 billion in new financing that will allow it to pay its employees and suppliers through the period.

Aside from its sales woes, the Wayne, New Jersey-based company has struggled with debt since private-equity firms Bain Capital, KKR & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust took it private in a $6.6 billion leveraged buyout in 2005. The plan had been to take the company public, but that never happened because of its weak financial performance. And the debt meant Toys R Us couldn’t invest in its business.