London Toys ‘R’ Us store closes due to ‘operational challenges’

The London Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us location on Wonderland Road South has been forced to close its doors after its landlord said the retailer failed to pay $136,890.79 in rent. 

The notice from the retailer’s landlord, Wonderland Power Centre Incorporated, is dated Monday, April 20 and explains that because the retailer is past due on its rent, the landlord has changed the locks on the store and seized everything contained within it.

The notice states that if the retailer fails to pay the rent it owes within five days, then all of the retailer’s property in the store will be sold off. 

A sign in the window of the shuttered store said customers can still buy items from the retailer online and pick them up at the chain’s location at Argyle Mall at Dundas Street East and Clarke Road. 

The Toys “R” Us location at Argyle Mall was still operating Thursday where dozens of customers stopped to pick up items they’d ordered online. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

The retailer’s Argyle Mall location appeared busy Thursday with dozens of customers picking up items ranging from games and toys, to children’s outdoor play equipment and infant car seats.

None of the customers CBC News spoke with said they were affected by the closure of the retailer’s west-end location. 

Employees at the store said the Wonderland location was closed because of “operational challenges” and that Toys “R” Us had consolidated its operations at its Argyle location to “better serve customers.”

A notice is affixed to the front doors of the Toys “R” Us location in London’s south end where the landlord, Wonderland Power Centre Incorporated, has changed the locks over owed rent. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

In an email to CBC News, Toys “R” Us president and CEO Vic Bertrand seemed to suggest the closure of the south London location was only temporary. 

“We hope to reach a resolution with the landlord soon,” he wrote. “We are in discussions with landlords to work together in good faith and collectively navigate these challenging, unprecedented times together.” 

The landlord, Wonderland Power Centre Incorporated, which is owned by Southside Construction Group, did not return a request for comment from CBC News. 

After struggling in the face of stiff competition, Toys “R” Us met with a swift downfall in the U.S., closing more than 200 American stores and laying off more than 30,000 employees in 2018.

That same year, the toy chain’s 84 Canadian stores sought creditor protection and the company’s then-CEO Melanie Teed-Murch vowed to innovate and lure in millenials and their children in order to revive what appeared to be the chain’s sagging fortunes. 

She announced her resignation from the company last summer in order to take the reins at OnRoute Canada, a chain of service stations and restaurants along the 400-series highways in Ontario, owned through a public-private partnership. 

An employee loads goods into the back of a waiting vehicle at the Toys “R” Us store at Argyle Mall. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

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