Update Mar 14, 2018 6:15 p.m. EDT: Toys “R” Us is getting ready to close more than 700 U.S. stores, including Babies “R” Us, in a move expected to impact as many as 33,000 workers, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Company Chief Executive David Brandon told workers at its headquarters in Wayne, N.J., about its plans to file liquidation papers Wednesday night before a bankruptcy hearing on Thursday.
“I have always believed that this brand and this business should exist in the U.S.,” Brandon said during a conference call with staff, the WSJ reported.
He also predicted that vendors and customers alike will miss the struggling retailer when its gone.
They “will all live to regret what’s happening here,” Brandon said.
The store is also shutting down operations overseas.
“We’re putting a for sale sign on everything,” Brandon told employees, according to the WSJ.
Employees were told they can expect at least two months worth of salary and benefits.
The large toy store is 70 years old and filed for bankruptcy last fall.
A hearing in bankruptcy court is scheduled for Thursday after a delay.
“To our loyal customers: We’ve seen an amazing outpouring of love and support in recent days and we truly appreciate it," the company wrote on Twitter. "Our stores are open for business, ready to bring joy to children wherever we can, and to help new and expecting parents navigate raising a family.”
Several reports said the company is expected to address the liquidation of its stores on Tuesday. Sources told Bloomberg that the shutdown of the U.S. division has become “increasingly likely” within the past week. Company officials are losing hope that lenders will agree on terms of a debt restructuring, but company officials declined to comment on the speculation.
The toy company’s $583 million of first-lien bonds due in 2021 dropped as much as 4 cents on the dollar to 83.9, according to the bond-pricing system known as Trace.
Toys “R” Us, Inc. voluntarily filed for relief under Chapter 11 in September 2017. Toys “R” Us was $5 billion in debt as of April 29. At the time of bankruptcy, the company said it would close about one-fifth of its store locations. Closing sales are expected to conclude in April.
At the beginning of 2018, the chain had more than 800 stores before announcing in January that it would shutter 180 stores.