New Investor Takes Control of Toys R Us
The owner of fashion brands Anne Klein and Joseph Abboud is getting into the toy business, a move that returns a well-known brand to retail centers.
New York City-based WHP Global, backed by funds managed by Oaktree Capital and BlackRock, announced Monday it now has a controlling interest in the company that bought Toys R Us out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy two years ago.
Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2017 to deal with $5 billion in debt. Unable to work its way out of bankruptcy, the retailer liquidated and closed its more than 700 stores around the country.
Tru Kids, backed by Solus Alternative Asset Management and Ares Management, acquired all of the Toys R Us trademarks. Under the new ownership, Tru Kids opened two stores in shopping malls.
Those have closed, in part because the coronavirus pandemic cut foot traffic in malls.
Yehuda Shmidman, WHP’s chief executive officer and vice chairman of Tru Kids since 2019, told CNBC the plan is to open new stores in a variety of possible formats, such as flagship stores, pop-ups and airport locations.
Toys R Us currently sells online through Amazon.
Office Use Sees Small Increase
Office use ticked up in some of the biggest U.S. cities last week.
But the increase wasn't universal. Many of the major metropolitan areas where Falls Church, Virginia-based security firm Kastle Systems has client buildings saw little change in office usage for the week that ended March 10.
Kastle gathers anonymous employee data from buildings where it provides access control technology for workplaces. While it is only a sampling of buildings by one security company, the data gives a peek into how employees and employers are responding to the constantly changing pandemic.
Texas cities Dallas, Houston and Austin held steady while San Antonio had a small dip of 2.5 percentage points to 27%. Miami rose back above the halfway mark with 51.4%, following two weeks below the 50% mark.
Weekend Travel Rebounds
U.S. airports handled the most travelers in a year last weekend, the start of the spring break season for many schools.
Nearly 1.36 million travelers passed through airport checkpoints on Friday, according to figures from the Transportation Security Administration. That followed 1.28 million on Thursday. Sunday capped four days above 1 million, with 1.34 million.
Airlines such as Southwest, American, Delta and United also reported increases in future bookings on Monday.
The boost marked a shift from a year ago when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic and states and cities shut down beach locations, essentially ending spring break.
Now, many of those same communities have begun rolling back restrictions as vaccines become available, prompting warnings from health officials that crowds could prompt yet another surge in cases.