Toys R Us comeback begins with baby steps

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Toys R Us (Photo: AleWi / Wikipedia)

(CBS) — Toys R Us on Thursday announced the start of a hoped-for U.S. comeback with the opening in November of two locations in New Jersey and Texas.

The return of the storied toy seller will be managed as a joint venture between tech retailer b8ta and Tru Kids, a company founded in January to manage the Toys ‘R ‘Us brand after the retail chain’s liquidation last year in bankruptcy court.

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Tru Kids and b8ta plan to open 10 total U.S. stores by the end of 2020, but their first step will be launching two stores this fall in the Galleria mall in Houston, Texas, and in the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. The new Toys R Us also hopes to spark online sales through its new smaller-format stores.

The joint venture also said Thursday it will work with the worker-advocacy group United for Respect to prioritize hiring some of the more than 30,000 former Toys R Us employees who lost their jobs after the toy store filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and more than 740 U.S. stores closed last year.

Tru Kids would not specify how many positions will be available in the two shops opening in November, or the eight others planned for 2020, with a spokesperson saying only that the “number of employees will vary by location, size of the store and traffic.” Tru Kids also said former Toys R Us employees would be considered new hires, not rehires, for the new company.