Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us returns to Australia and partners with eBay

Brands make return to local market with new bricks and mortar and online retail strategy

The local owner of children's toy and product brands, Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us, which recently re-launched in Australia and debuted in New Zealand, has announced eBay as a retail partner under a newly inked deal. 

Already boasting of distinct local websites, the eBay virtual storefront is another component of an omnichannel strategy being built by owner, Hobby Warehouse, which is bringing the toy and baby brands back to local shores.

"EBay has done a good job of becoming a partner-focused marketplace in a structured way with account management teams and clear promotional plans for partners. You need the marketplace because the reach is so vast," Hobby Warehouse chief executive, Louis Mittoni, explained to CMO.

Ebay senior director B2C, advertising and commercial partnership, Kristian Haigh, also described the partnership as a natural evolution. The deal continues an eight-year relationship between the auction and retail marketplace and Hobby Warehouse.

"Toys“R”Us is an icon known and loved by Aussies of all ages, so we’re thrilled to welcome the retailer to eBay as it builds its online offering,” Haigh said.

An Australian-owned company, Hobby Warehouse was established in 2011. It obtained local licensing rights for Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us from TruKids, the US umbrella company formed in 2019 to bring the well-established brands together with 20 other toy and baby brands under one moniker.

Mittoni said it was an easy decision to take  local licensing rights, knowing the brand value. "We saw huge strength in the brand - it's a 70-year-old brand, and there's huge trust in it," he said.

Products on offer include LEGO, Disney, Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price, My Little Pony, Nerf, Monopoly, Meccano, PAW Patrol, Play-Doh, Thomas & Friends, Monster Jam, Britax and InfaSecure.

Alongside online, Hobby Warehouse plans to establish a bricks-and-mortar retail presence, but with a small footprint and focused role, in the hope of avoiding a return to the challenges of running a large retail network. This will entail Hobby Warehouse to launch physical experience centres for Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us.

The retail phase kicks off in 2020, although the company is not giving away the number of stores being planned. Mittoni said the goal is to create an emotional relationship with an online brand through large format stores that bring products to life in all their tactile, interactive realness. He drew an analogy with large, experiential stores like Bass Pro in the US, as well as iconic toy stores such as FAO Schwarz in the US and Hamleys in London and Prague.

"We want to bring the experiences of play and touch to life and then have the benefit of buying in-store if it's store or having it shipped if it's bulky. So buy in-store, ship to home," Mittoni explained. "Our focus is always on the shopper. Can we create an amazing experience where they can spend a day there."

The company sees the new brands as a good fit, mirroring the ages of customers from Babies“R”Us to Toys“R”Us and Hobby Warehouse with online the backbone and the experiential stores the showrooms. Mittoni said the decision to bring the brands back has been met with a positive response, boding well for revival and longevity.

Speaking on behalf of the US owners, True Kids executive VP of global licensing and general counsel, Jamesa Young, saw the A/NZ plans as an exciting milestone for the company as it continues to grow Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us around the world.

"Louis Mittoni and his team have a strong digital vision and understand both the heritage of our iconic brands and how to evolve the shopping experience for the modern consumer,” he said.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia. 

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