Toys R Us was dead, but it might not stay that way.
Although the company closed all its U.S. stores in June as part of its bankruptcy liquidation process, the owners of the toy and baby product retailer might be eyeing a return, according to Monday court filings.
In the midst of an auction for its remaining assets, the hedge fund that owns the company decided to hang onto the Toys R Us and Babies R Us brand names, Web domains and other assets, such as the big-eyed, spotted mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe, while considering “a new, operating Toys R Us and Babies R Us branding company,” according to court documents.
The potential revival would keep its global license agreements and “can invest in and create new, domestic, retail operating businesses under the Toys R Us and Babies R Us names, as well as expand its international presence and further develop its private brands business,” the documents state.
The plan suggests that investors think it would be more lucrative to revamp the former toy industry juggernaut than it would be to sell the pieces to qualified bidders.
The filings didn’t give any further details about what the business’s comeback might look like, nor did it offer a timeline.
Jeremy Williams, an attorney representing Toys R Us’ debtors, declined to comment on the future of the retailer.
After six decades of business, Toys R Us struggled in recent years to keep up with big-box and online competitors. It filed for bankruptcy last September. Initially the company planned to reorganize and work off its nearly $8 billion debt, much of which came from a leveraged buyout in 2005. But after a poor performance during the holidays, it announced it was going out of business. Toys R Us vacated an $11 billion market for toys, leaving competing retailers, such as Walmart and Target, scrambling to cash in by this year’s holiday season.
The company’s closure affected some 33,000 jobs.