Babies R Us Reborn: Smaller, Experiential
Photo credit: Jarrett Birnbaum/American Dream
It’s back, baby. WHP Global just opened the first of the rebooted Babies R Us store, weighing in at 10,000 square feet and stocked with plenty of experiential components. New parents can take a test drive on the Stroller Track, experiment with nursery designs, register for gifts, and pose for pregnancy announcements at the Bon Voyage photo opp.
The new location opens in New Jersey’s American Dream mall just as all hopes collapsed for competitor Buy Buy Baby, which was owned by the now-defunct Bed Bath & Beyond.
WHP is already finding plenty of success with its Toys R Us revival. And it first announced plans for the Babies R Us rebirth in January.
“Since acquiring both the Babies R Us and Toys R Us brands in 2021, our mission has been laser-focused on bringing them back to America,” said Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and chief executive, in the announcement. He added that the opening “sets the stage for a national rollout of Babies R Us in the near future.”
WHP Global acquires global consumer brands and then revives them. It also owns Anne Klein, Isaac Mizrahi, and Joseph Abboud. And with Express, a strategic partner, WHP recently purchased Bonobos, the men’s pants company, from Walmart for a reported $75 million.
The Babies R Us expansion is notable, given the tough climate for specialty retailers. From babies to bridal to craft stores, stores feel pressure from consumers who prefer shopping online. And they’re also feeling the pinch of rough economic factors.
An 11th-hour effort to keep Buy Buy Baby alive fell apart this week, with potential savior Go Global Retail, owner of company Janie and Jack, walking away. And Overstock.com acquired the intellectual property of Bed Bath and Beyond but passed on the Buy Buy Baby remnants.
David’s Bridal also recently declared bankruptcy. And in an analysis of which retail brands are the most vulnerable, Moody’s Investor Service now predicts that the number of companies defaulting will accelerate in the coming year.
It says 99 Cents Only Stores, Rite-Aid, Jo-Ann Stores, Belk and Carvana are among the most challenged.