Crowdfunding campaign to save Toys ‘R’ Us doesn’t include Canadian stores

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Financial Post | Tara Deschamps | March 22, 2018

TORONTO — Toy company executive Isaac Larian is hoping to keep Toys “R” Us’s Canadian operations from going out of business, but a $1 billion crowdfunding campaign he launched to rescue the company doesn’t include the country’s stores.

The executive behind California-based MGA Entertainment Inc., which makes Little Tikes, Bratz and L.O.L. Surprise! toys, announced on Thursday that he and some affiliated investors were seeking $800 million from toy lovers in hopes of acquiring “all or some” of Toy “R” Us’s assets, thus “saving the retail chain and preserving the Toys “R” Us experience for future generations.”

The efforts focus on Toys “R” Us’s U.S. stores and are separate from Larian’s attempts to buy the brand’s 82 Canadian stores, which 20 interested parties are vying for, said Toys “R” Us bankruptcy documents filed in the U.S.

“Toys “R” Us Canada is a good business,” Larian said in a statement previously. “They run it efficiently, and have good leadership. At the right price, it makes economical sense.”

Though the Canadian arm of the company filed for creditor protection in September, it said it has enough financing to stay afloat, even while the company shutters its business in the U.S. and U.K. and is reportedly likely to liquidate its ventures in Australia, France, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

Its Canadian operations are autonomous from its U.S. dealings, but Toys “R” Us CEO David Brandon has said the company will try to bundle its Canadian business with about 200 U.S. stores as it looks to find a buyer.

Larian hasn’t said how much of Toys “R” Us he is seeking.

On Thursday, Larian was drumming up attention for his crowdfunding campaign — which he admitted is for a “staggering” total — but explains that “it would take a very large sum to create a successful bid for the acquisition of such a large entity.”

By 3:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, the campaign had attracted just over $12,000, mostly in denominations of less than $100. Donors were being enticed with promises of #SaveToysRUs bumper stickers, special edition toys, invites to a reopening block party and opportunities to tour the oldest toy factory currently operating in the U.S. depending on the amount they give.

Larian and “various associates” chipped in $200 million for the campaign, leaving the other $800 million to customers. He also vowed to direct 10 per cent of proceeds from all Little Tikes purchases made between Thursday and the campaign’s May 28 end date to the campaign.

The fight to save Toys “R” Us stems in part from the role it played in Larian’s life.

“I sold my first toy to Toys “R” Us. Watching my kids walk through the aisles with smiles on their faces, it was a place for them to truly be free,” said Larian, in an email to the Canadian Press. “There’s a magic many of us experienced walking the aisles of a Toys “R” Us, a magic I want my grandchild to experience. It’s personal for me and I think it feels personal to millions of people across the U.S. and around the world.”

Toys “R” Us didn’t just offer the magic of wandering through aisles of toys. It also brought significant money to toymakers.

 

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The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, P2P, ICO, and online investing stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry in Canada.  For more information, please visit:  www.ncfacanada.org

 

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