In April 1948, Charles P. Lazarus founded a baby-furniture retailer, Children's Bargaintown in Washington, D.C., during the post-war baby boom.
Charles Lazarus, founder of Toys 'R' Us, began his career in retailing in 1948.
1948 – Charles Lazarus opens a baby furniture store in Washington, D.C., just as the Baby Boom begins.
The focus of the store changed in June 1957, and the first Toys "R" Us, dedicated exclusively to toys rather than furniture, was opened by Lazarus in Rockville, Maryland.
1957 – After expanding into toys, Lazarus begins using the Toys R Us name on his stores.
In 1958 Lazarus opened a 25,000-square-foot discount toy store that offered a wide variety of merchandise and boasted prices 20 to 50 percent lower than those of other retailers.
In April 1948, Charles P. Lazarus founded a baby-furniture retailer, Children's Bargaintown in Washington, D.C., during the post-war baby boom. It was acquired in 1966 by Interstate Department Stores, Inc.
By 1966 store profits had reached $12 million, but Lazarus had added only one store and needed money for expansion.
1966 – Lazarus sells his company to Interstate Sales and becomes head of its toy division, overseeing the Toys R Us stores.
The arrangement worked in the beginning, but in 1969, when the store showed an $11-million profit on $589 million in sales, Interstate started to feel the heat from the competition.
1969 – Toys adopts Geoffrey the giraffe as its brand mascot. (Previously a more professorial cartoon giraffe, Doctor G. Raffe, appeared it its ads.)
By 1974, even with the expansion to 47 stores and a $130-million yearly profit, Interstate had lost $92 million and filed for bankruptcy.
1974 – Interstate files for bankruptcy and the court puts Lazarus in charge of the restructuring.
He was also encouraged by toy manufacturers in the form of generous credit and, by 1978 he had generated enough profit to pull Interstate out of bankruptcy.
1978 – Toys R Us becomes a public company, trading on the New York Stock Exchange, and is headquartered in Paramus.
1983 – The first Kids R Us clothing store opens.
Overall, Toys 'R' Us controls 20 percent of toy retailing, down from 25 percent in 1990.
Toys 'R' Us became a source of stiff competition for other toy stores, causing chains such as Child World and Lionel to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992.
1994 – Lazarus steps aside as chief executive, kicking off two decades of frequent management changes.
Fourth-quarter earnings were reportedly a record-breaking $4.7 billion, an increase from the fourth quarter of 1995.
Sales for the entire year were up 5 percent from 1995, and were recorded as $9.9 billion.
"toys 'r' us to open stores in italy." toys 'r' us shareholder direct, 1 july 1996.
The company continued to experience a great deal of success and, by 1996 planned to open 35 new toy stores, 10 Kids 'R' Us locations, and 55 international toy stores.
In 1996 the company began a worldwide restructuring program, streamlining its inventory by more than 20 percent.
Expansion continued in 1996 with the addition of 104 stores, including first franchises in Indonesia, Italy, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey.
The superstore concept was exemplified in KidsWorld, which opened in 1996.
In 1996, 32 stores were opened in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
1996 – The first Babies R Us store opens.
"toys 'r' us completes acquisition of baby superstore." toys 'r' us shareholder direct, 3 february 1997.
Babies 'R' Us, purchased in 1997, is an expansive 45,000-square-foot facility that offers everything new parents need.
In 1997 Toys 'R' Us bought the chain Baby Super-store, creating Babies 'R' Us.
In 1997 Toys 'R' Us lost in court to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who charged the company with using its marketing clout to force major toymakers to sell popular toys only to Toys 'R' Us and not to the warehouse clubs.
The company was projected to open 105 stores in 1997.
The purchase was completed in 1997, and the reported price for the venture was $376 million.
Of 1997's total sales of $11.0 billion, 26 percent or $2.9 billion came from sales outside the United States.
Earnings per share increased to $1.54, which grew to $1.72 by January 31, 1998—below the projected earnings of $1.90.
In celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, Toys 'R' Us will begin a year-long promotion in the third quarter of 1998.
In 1998 Toys 'R' Us had stores in 26 countries, with plans to open approximately 35 new stores.
1998 – Walmart beats Toys R Us for the title of top United States toy seller for the first time.
The board of directors installed John Eyler as CEO (formerly of FAO Schwarz) in May 2000.
In order to combat these problems, Toys 'R' Us concentrated on a new store layout called "Concept 2000." These stores feature a racetrack, oval aisles, and life-size toy icons.
Along with this "Concept 2000," two megastores were opened under the name KidsWorld.
With this in mind, "Concept 2000" was introduced to improve the shopping experience.
2001 – Toys R Us Times Square, touted as the largest toy store in the world, opens in Manhattan with a three-story ferris wheel, and a 20-foot high animatronic T-Rex.
On March 17, 2005, a consortium of Bain Capital Partners LLC, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Vornado Realty Trust announced a $6.6 billion leveraged buyout of the company.
Public stock closed for the last time on July 21, 2005 at $26.75—a 63% increase since when it first announced that the company was put up for sale.
2005 – Bain Capital, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and Vornado Realty Trust buy Toys R Us, taking it private in a $6.6 billion leveraged buyout deal.
2009 – The company buys Etoys.com and Toys.com, and toy retailers KB Toys and FAO Schwarz
In December 2013, eight days before Christmas, Toys "R" Us announced their stores in the United States would stay open for 87 hours straight.
2013 – With sales declining and the IPO market stalled, Toys R Us withdraws its IPO registration.
The company has not had an annual profit since 2013.
2015 – Dave Brandon, who led a winning public offering for Domino’s Pizza, becomes the fourth Toys R Us CEO in 16 years tasked with turning the company around.
In 2015, the company launched the first of a new concept store called the "Toy Lab" in Freehold, New Jersey.
2016 – Changes boost earnings, but top line sales growth remains elusive.
It had been paying US$400 million per-year to service its debt, which prevented it from investing in improvements to in-store experiences to compete with Amazon and Walmart. It reported a net loss of US$164 million in the quarter ending April 29, 2017.
On September 18, 2017, Toys "R" Us, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, stating the move would give it flexibility to deal with $5 billion in long-term debt, borrow $2 billion so it could pay suppliers for the upcoming holiday season and invest in improving current operations.
On December 4, 2017, the company reported that it would be liquidating and closing at least 26 stores in the United Kingdom as part of an insolvency restructuring known as a company voluntary arrangement.
2017 – Toys R Us hires a law firm that specializes in corporate restructuring
In January 2018, the company announced it would liquidate and close up to 182 of its stores in the United States as part of its restructuring, as well as convert up to 12 stores into co-branded Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores.
After amassing £15 million in unpaid taxes, Toys "R" Us Limited entered administration on February 28, 2018.
March 14, 2018 - Toys R Us tells employees that it will liquidate and close or sell all of its roughly 800 United States stores.
On March 15, 2018, Toys "R" Us received approval from the bankruptcy court to liquidate its stores.
Liquidation sales began on March 23, 2018.
On March 2, 2018, it was announced that all UK stores would begin a liquidation sale, and on March 14, 2018, it was announced that all UK stores were expected to close within six weeks.
On April 24, 2018, it was announced that the Canadian division would be sold to Fairfax Financial for approximately $234 million, and would continue to operate the locations under the Toys "R" Us name.
On April 21, 2018, it was announced that UK and Irish rival Smyths would purchase Toys "R" Us stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as Toys "R" Us Europe's head office in Cologne.
In early July 2018, it was reported that unknown benefactors had bought out all of the remaining stock of two locations in North Carolina so they could be donated to charity.
In November 2018, Fortune noted that the absence of the retailer during the 2018 holiday season represented a US$4 billion chunk of toy sales from which other retailers could benefit.
In November 2018, it was announced that grocery market chain Kroger would add toy displays under the Geoffrey's Toy Box brand to some of its locations, to sell selections of Toys "R" Us private-label products.
2018 – Toys R Us files documents with Bankruptcy Court indicating plans to close 182 stores.
On January 20, 2019, the company emerged from bankruptcy as Tru Kids.
On July 19, 2019, it was announced that PicWicToys will replace the former Toys "R" Us stores in France.
On October 8, 2019, Tru Kids announced a partnership with rival Target that relaunches ToysRUs.com ahead of the 2019 holiday season and redirects its shoppers to Target.com once they select the "Buy" button.
On November 27, 2019, Toys "R" Us opened a retail store at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey.
On December 7, 2019, a second location was opened at The Galleria in Houston, Texas.
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