The Billionaire Behind Bratz Dolls Is Leading a Last-Minute Push to Save Toys R Us

The Billionaire Behind Bratz Dolls Is Leading a Last-Minute Push to Save Toys R Us
From TIME - March 22, 2018

(NEW YORK)Toy company executive Isaac Larian says he and other investors have pledged a total of $200 million in financing and hope to raise four times that amount in crowdfunding in order to bid for up to 400 of the Toys R Us stores being liquidated in bankruptcy.

The unsolicited bid still faces many hurdles, including finding other deep-pocked investors and getting a bankruptcy judge to agree to it. But this is the first public plan to keep the cherished toy brand in existence in the United States.

Such a long-shot move would also greatly benefit Larians primary business. Hes CEO of Bratz doll-maker MGA Entertainment, which relies on Toys R Us for nearly 1 in every 5 sales.

Larian says he and the other investors, which he declined to name, believe salvaging part of the Toys R Us business will be good for the toy industry, customers and workers. Theyre interested in more than half the 735 U.S. stores Toys R Us plans to liquidate, and want to be able to use the valuable brand name.

And theyre hoping the outpouring of affectionate nostalgia when Toys R Us announced its plans#SaveToysRUs has been a trend on social mediatranslates into pledges toward their $1 billion goal.

Toys R Us sought court approval last week to liquidate its remaining U.S. stores, threatening the jobs of some 30,000 employees and spelling the end for a chain known to generations of children and parents for its sprawling stores, sing-along jingle and Geoffrey the giraffe mascot.

The store has an iconic place in American culture, said Larian. We cant just sit back and just let it disappear. Larian, who is a billionaire, is using his own money, not MGA funds, for the bid.

Why might Larian be successful with a retail chain struggling to stay relevant in the age of Amazon? For one thing, Larian wouldnt have the massive $5 billion in debt that hampered the current owner of Toys R Us. He also says the toy industry needs a big chain like Toys R Us, where children can touch and feel the toys and toymakers can test new products.


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