Since it became clear last week that Toys R Us would likely be shutting down all stores (some locations are telling customers that they’ll be closed by May 14), speculation has run rampant, and one company has already capitalized on the situation with an interesting announcement over the weekend.
Strategic Marks Inc., a firm that specializes in reviving defunct brands, and one that has had some remarkable success, made a big splash Sunday with the announcement that they have “acquired” the trademark for “KB Toys.”
I use quotation marks there because they didn’t purchase the trademarks from Toys R Us. Another company tried to do that last year. Strategic Marks filed for a variant of the name that had escaped notice by TRU when they snapped up “KayBee,” “KB Toyworks” and “KBKids.” TRU also owns the websites associated with those names, although they all just redirect back to the Toys R Us website.
The Rockfather has a great explanation of this up at his site. If it weren’t for Strategic Marks’ previous success in reviving Leaf Brands and Hydrox cookies, this would just look like an attempt to cash in on the sudden interest in toy retailing. However, since this is a successful company with a strong track record, and they may well be able to purchase the complete set of KayBee trademarks out of liquidation and possibly even get a few stores in the process, it can’t be easily dismissed.
Reuters has a story up that details how the Toys R Us brand name is likely to survive liquidation. If the bid by the group led by Isaac Larian is successful, then we might see two or even three smaller toy retailers emerge from the post-liquidation rubble.
There is a hearing scheduled for today, and from that we are likely to learn more details about potential buyers of parts of the company and when liquidation sales will begin. Most vendors have stopped shipping new product to Toys R Us, and the fate of their previously-announced store exclusives is still unknown.
It’s anticipated that the top 200 stores will be liquidated last, to give them time to try and find a buyer for their best performers. Gift cards and rewards dollars are expected to become worthless by the middle of April.
We will keep you updated on this story, probably later this week.