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Toying With Success

November 5, 2012

If there’s a company that has been literally toying with success then it has to be Toys “R” Us. This retailer is solely focused on toys and juvenile-products and is a multi-billion dollar business.  It all began in 1948 when Charles Lazarus started Children’s Supermarket in Washington, D.C. as a baby-furniture retailer to cash in on the post-war baby boom. 

His first products were cribs and baby furniture. He literally ran it single-handedly, taking care of bookkeeping all the way to delivering merchandise to customers’ homes. Lazarus was quick to address customer needs.  Customers began requesting for baby toys so he added baby toys to his offering which would turn out to be the source of success for the company. So much so that the business focus changed. He opened his second store in 1957 and chose the name Toys “R” Us.  The “R” was written backwards which angered parents and teachers but it did its job of getting attention.

The business was acquired by Interstate Department Stores in 1966 which owned a line of children’s products. Yet the seed had already been sown and the name Toys “R” Us remained.  As part of its diversification effort the company entered children’s clothing in 1983 with its first Kids “R” Us stores.  This paved the way for the creation of Babies “R” Us in 1996 which is now the leading baby products specialty retailer in the U.S.

The company started its global expansion in 1984 by opening its first internationally owned store in Canada and licensed operation in Singapore.  Toys “R” Us is also very much present in ecommerce with eToys.com, Toysrus.com, Babiesrus.com and Toys.com.

The company went public in 1978 until July 2005 when it was acquired by an investment group comprising affiliates of Bain Capital Partners LLC, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and Vornado Realty Trust in a complete leverage buyout.

Despite ownership changes over the years the company has been professionally run and continues to be viable.  The fact that its products are toys may have something to do with it. Toys “R” Us has headquarters in New Jersey. It has 875 stores in the U.S. and 625 stores abroad with over 140 licensed stores in 35 countries and jurisdictions. Revenues stood at $13.909 billion last year.

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