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Toys ‘R’ Us Case Is Test of Private Equity in Age of Amazon
MARCH 15, 2018 | The New York Times | By MICHAEL CORKERY.

The reality is that Toys “R” Us, which announced on Thursday that it would shutter or sell all of its stores in the United States, never had much chance at a turnaround.

For over a decade, Toys “R” Us had been drowning in $5 billion of debt, which its private equity backers had saddled it with. With debt payments siphoning off cash every year, Toys “R” Us could not properly invest in its worn-out suburban stores or outdated website. Sales plummeted, as Amazon captured more children’s desires — and their parents’ wallets — for Star Wars Legos and Paw Patrol recycling trucks.

Toys “R” Us is the latest failure of financial engineering, albeit one that could portend a potentially more ominous outlook for private equity in the digital era.....Most buyouts tend to work the same way. A private equity firm takes over a troubled company with the goal of sprucing up the strategy, cutting costs and overhauling the business over three or five years. But they often load up a company with debt to pay for the deal, which can prove problematic if the profits do not perk up.

In the age of Amazon, that formula can be dangerous. Consumer demands are changing so quickly that heavily indebted companies have trouble reordering their business to adapt and compete with better-funded rivals...... the deterioration of Toys “R” Us from a potential turnaround strategy to the end of an iconic brand — in a matter of months — shows just how difficult it can be for private equity to compete in a rapidly evolving industry. In retailing, Amazon is reordering everything on the store shelf. And children’s changing interest in games and toys, which now encompasses high-end electronics, adds to the complexity.....Enter Amazon. In recent years, the company had started to aggressively expand its toy business, creating a comprehensive, online showroom with low prices at the click of a button. Pressed by Amazon, Walmart also pushed hard into toys, dropping its prices to capture more market share.

Walmart could absorb the price cuts on toys because it makes up the profit on other items. But for Toys “R” Us, a price war on toys and games, its only offerings, was devastating.
private_equity  bankruptcies  toys  digital_economy  Amazon  Wal-Mart  KKR  Bain_Capital  Toys_"R"_Us  financial_engineering  LBOs  buyouts  shifting_tastes  category_killers  price_wars 
march 2018 by jerryking
Toys ‘R’ Us versus Amazon: No contest
September 17, 2017 | The Globe and Mail | BARRIE MCKENNA.

It's a new era all right...The industry is grappling with the relentless onslaught of Amazon and Alibaba, excess retail space, the retreat of department-store mall anchors and intense price competition. Meanwhile, consumers are shifting their spending from things to experiences, including entertainment and dining-out
The harsh reality for Toys "R" Us and other big-box stores is that they aren't indispensable any more as North Americans discover new and different ways to shop. You don't have to schlep to a suburban shopping strip to find the newest Lego set, video game or electronic gadget. Order it online, and you can have it delivered to your door, often for free the next day, at the best price available anywhere.

....retail experts have warned that a tipping point was coming for the industry as more and more shopping moved online. This looks like the year.....Analysts predict that a record 9,000 retail stores will close across the U.S. in 2017. That would eclipse 2016, when roughly 6,200 stores closed....
Retailers have been filing for protection from creditors at a faster pace this year than at any time since the 2008-09 recession. Toys "R" Us joins a long list of famous retail casualties of 2017 in Canada and the U.S., including Sears Canada, The Limited, Wet Seal, BCBG, Payless Shoes, Sports Authority, Gymboree, Aéropostale and American Apparel. And there are still three-plus months to go.....The rise of Amazon is proof that consumers are embracing new ways of buying. The company's North American sales grew five-fold to $80-billion (U.S.) between 2010 and 2016. Half of U.S. households now subscribe to Amazon Prime, a fee-based service that offers free two-day shipping, music and video streaming plus other perks......What's alarming isn't so much the share of shopping that has moved online, but the speed at which it's moved.

Warren Buffett sold off nearly $1-billion worth of Walmart stock earlier this year, explaining that traditional retailing is "too tough" a business in the age of Amazon. "The world has evolved, and it's going to keep evolving, but the speed is increasing," Mr. Buffett said.

Amazon and China's Alibaba won't be the only winners in this new era. A vast array of other businesses feed off the online industry, including shippers and logistics companies, plus a vast network of technology companies, including store platforms (Shopify), analytics companies and app makers.
Amazon  Alibaba  e-commerce  store_closings  Barrie_McKenna  retailers  bricks-and-mortar  toys  Toys_"R"_Us  bankruptcies  brands  Amazon_Prime  home-delivery  accelerated_lifecycles  Warren_Buffett  Wal-Mart  big-box 
september 2017 by jerryking
Toys 'R' History - WSJ.com
AUGUST 31, 2004 | Wall Street Journal | by CLAYTON M.
CHRISTENSEN and SCOTT D. ANTHONY. Today, Wal-Mart is going one better
than Toys "R" Us. With its mammoth stores, diverse array of products and
super-efficient supply chain, Wal-Mart can provide consumers good
quality, high levels of choice and convenience, and rock-bottom prices.
It has shifted the "basis of competition" from convenience to price.

So what can a company like Toys "R" Us do when signs emerge that the
basis of competition has shifted decisively in ways that make a
previously successful strategy ineffective? The truth is, if a company
facing this situation has not acted proactively before the signs become
conclusive, it is already too late. A company must sow the seeds of its
new growth business before the game palpably changes.
Clayton_Christensen  Scott_Anthony  Innosight  Toys_"R"_Us  Wal-Mart  growth  embryonic  emerging_markets  competitive_landscape 
january 2010 by jerryking

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