Toys ‘R’ Us has confirmed plans to close a number of UK stores as part of a project to cut costs amid fierce competition from online retailers.
In a statement on Monday, the firm said at least 26 shops are to shut down in Spring 2018, with 800 roles at risk of redundancy as it tackles its “warehouse-style stores that are too expensive to run”.
The announcement comes three months after the big box retailer filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada after admitting it had been struggling with £3.6billion debt and competition from the likes of Amazon and Walmart.
At the time, it said stores in the UK would be unaffected by changes in the US, adding that it’s “business as usual”.
However, on Friday rumours began to circulate that ‘hundreds’ of jobs could be at risk over potential Toys ‘R’ Us UK closures.
Up to 26 branches are to be axed, although they are expected to stay open through the Christmas period and into the New Year.
A comment said the closures are part of a “plan to transform the business to meet the evolving needs of customers in today’s UK retail market”.
Steve Knights, of Toys ‘R’ Us UK, said: “All of our stores across the UK remain open for business as normal through Christmas and well into the New Year. Customers can also continue to shop online and there will be no changes to our returns policies or gift cards across this period.
“Our newer, smaller, more interactive stores are in the right shopping locations and are trading well, while our new website has generated significant growth in online and click-and-collect sales.
“But the warehouse style stores we opened in the 1980s and 1990s, while successful in the early days, are too big and expensive to run in the current retail environment. The business has been loss making in recent years and so we need to take strong and decisive action to accelerate the transformation.”
He said there would be no changes to the returns policies or gift cards across this period.
Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of Money.co.uk added that workers should now look to their redundancy rights – with up to 800 roles set to go under consultation.
“It’s undoubtedly distressing news for employees of Toys ‘R’ Us and their families especially because their fates with the business are currently uncertain. Now is the time to check what redundancy rights you have and dig out any income or mortgage protection policies you hold just in case.
“In the run up to Christmas be smart about buying gift vouchers from retailers who are struggling. If you’re unsure, opt for gift vouchers you can spend with multiple retailers so you aren’t left out of pocket.”