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Storch highlights TRU toy leadership ahead of holiday season

NEW YORK – Holiday music playing throughout Toys “R” Us’ flagship store in New York City’s Times Square helped set the stage for chairman and CEO Jerry Storch’s take on what’s to come this season.

Despite a sluggish economy that is expected to continue for the years to come, Storch highlighted the company’s performance during the last few years, noting that its holiday comparable-store sales have been more consistent and more positive than other retailers. However he stopped short of pinpointing a specific comparable-store forecast for this year.

According to Storch, the secret to Toys “R” Us’ success is having a differentiated product assortment, a growing e-commerce business, enhanced omnichannel capabilities and improved store experience.

The differentiated product assortment for Storch means having more exclusives than any other retailer and to have more of what isn’t exclusive than anyone else. Storch said the company invests a lot in time and money when it comes to finding the hottest toys of the season. In addition, the company’s key relationships with such major players as Hasbro and Mattel helps keep it the leader in toy exclusives.

To emphasize Toys “R” Us’ large selection of toy exclusives for the holiday season, press in attendance were handed a copy of the retailer’s 44-page exclusives only catalog – a first for the company.

Toys “R” Us’ e-commerce business continues to be a key driver of overall sales, Storch reported. The retailer’s website is the 29th largest according to Internet Retailer, with 15 million visitors per month in 2010. That number jumped to 30 million in December, showing the retailer’s popularity during the holiday season.

The retailer’s growing online business is being supported by its newly opened distribution center near Reno, Nevada dedicated to fulfilling e-commerce orders. According to Storch, any product in store will be available online.

Storch sees e-commerce has just one part of an enhanced omnichannel shopping experience. Toys “R” Us has integrated its online and in-store channels through a number of services that give customers the ability to shop from multiple platforms, have their order fulfilled anywhere, picked up anywhere and returned anywhere.

The in-store experience is where Toys “R” Us has the potential to really stand out from online-only and limited-assortment mass retailers. Although Storch acknowledges that those companies may beat Toys “R” Us on price, his company leads when it comes to helping customers find the right toys for the right kids, noting that Toys “R” Us is where they go for the big gifts. He commented that a customer shopping at limited-assortment retailer is lucky to find someone on staff who knows where the toys are, and with online only, they don’t help you at all.

Toys “R” Us efforts to improve its in-store experience includes the continued integration of Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores, keeping Toys “R” Us Express pop-up stores open year round and expanding into more outlets.

Heading into the holiday season, Storch is confident “Christmas will come” and that his company will be the go-to place for toys. To help that prophecy come true, the company is launching a fully-integrated marketing program that includes an increase in TV ads for its exclusive brands and actively engaging in social media.

Storch stressed that while his company doesn’t market based on price like the discounters, Toys “R” Us has more toys at any price point than any other store. He noted that when it comes to finding the right toy, price isn’t always the most important factor for the consumer.

“People want to buy what they want,” said Storch. He added that the key is to meet their needs first, then worry about price.

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