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Toys“R”Us to open up to 50 stores in India in 3 years: Nitin Chhabra, Ace Turtle

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The company plans to open 12 Toys“R”Us stores in 2024 and 100 in five years, as per Nitin Chhabra of Ace Turtle which operates the brand in India

Bengaluru: Retail tech company Ace Turtle plans to expand the presence of Toys“R”Us in India, with an intent to open up to 50 stores within a span of three years, a top company official told IndiaRetailing.

“Our long-term strategy for Toys“R”Us involves reaching approximately 100 stores within a five-year timeframe. However, we anticipate surpassing the milestone of 50 stores within three years,” said Nitin Chhabra, chief executive officer of Ace Turtle, which operates the brand’s stores in India.

Toys“R”Us currently has three operational stores in the country. This includes its store in Hyderabad, which marked the return of the brand to India; a 12,000 sq. ft. flagship store in Mumbai, which is India’s largest high-street toy store and the recently launched store in Bengaluru.

Spread across 6,200 sq. ft. of retail area, the store at Bhartiya Mall near Hebbal in Bengaluru is its first in the city.

The company is set to open 12 Toys“R”Us stores in 2024 and has secured more locations in Bengaluru with plans to venture into New Delhi, Punjab, and Uttarakhand, with a focus largely on metropolitan areas, Chhabra shared.

Nitin Chhabra
Nitin Chhabra, CEO of Ace Turtle

The first innings

Toys“R”Us made its foray into the Indian market in 2017 through Tablez India, a division of Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group International, with an exclusive master franchise agreement. At the time it had plans to open over 200 stores. However, the company wound up within three years of operations and only managed to open 14 stores.

The second innings

In 2021, ace turtle and Flipkart Group’s’ wholesale entity in India announced that joint venture company set up by them secured licensing rights for Toys“R”Us (TRU) and Babies“R”Us (BRU) in India through a strategic arrangement with WHP Global, the controlling shareholder of Toys“R”Us.

Today, the 66-year old American brand stands as one of the exclusive licensee brands under Ace Turtle, alongside other global retail brands such as Babies”R”Us, Lee, Wrangler and Dockers, which it operates in India and other South Asian markets.

The company primarily sells products manufactured within the country due to restrictions on imports imposed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

“By the end of this year, we will start selling some of the specialised products which are being made in other countries,” he said.

In India Toys“R”Us is available online as well as in stores, although currently it is experiencing higher sales offline with less than 10% of total sales coming from online.

“For the time being, our online sales may not exceed 15% of the total. However, as we progress steadily, I foresee that within three years, we will attain a significant portion, around 30-35%, of our business originating from online channels,” said Chhabra.

Toys“R”Us’ India plans

Discussing the top strategic priorities Toys“R”Us in India, Chabbra said, “Our first objective is to expand retail presence both offline and online. Also, we aim to deliver an experience comparable to that of Toys“R”Us across nearly 30 countries. Thirdly, we are in the process of initiating local manufacturing by the end of this year, and discussions with local manufacturers have already started.”

Chhabra feels that there is a lot of room for growth for the brand considering that the toy industry in India vastly unorganised market with only around 6% being organised, amounting to close to a billion dollars. “Recognising this, we see immense potential for organic growth and penetration. Also, the limited competition leaves a major white space for us to capitalise on,” said Chhabra.

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