Toys R Us, an iconic U.S. retailer of children’s toys, has announced plans to file liquidation papers and likely close most if not all of its remaining stores, potentially impacting up to 33,000 U.S. workers.
In a conference call with staff on Wednesday, reported on by The Wall Street Journal, CEO David Brandon said the company would file the papers ahead of a bankruptcy court hearing Thursday.
“I have always believed that this brand and this business should exist in the U.S.,” Brandon told employees.
The CEO blamed the liquidation on a number of factors, including vendors who didn’t support the company during the crucial holiday season and customers who choose to shop elsewhere.
They “will all live to regret what’s happening here,” Brandon said.
A representative for Toys R Us on Wednesday confirmed the Journal’s report and noted that there would not be an immediate shut down.
Administrators for the retailer also said Wednesday that the company plans to close all 75 remaining stores in the United Kingdom, which will affect roughly 3,000 workers.
The big box retailer, which has some 1,600 Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores around the world, filed for bankruptcy in September over $5 billion in long-term debt. The company said the debt had prevented it from investing to compete in what it called “an increasingly challenging and rapidly changing retail marketplace worldwide.”
The company missed payments to several suppliers in recent days, Bloomberg reported, prompting some to speculate that liquidation was likely on the horizon.
The toy chain is already in the process of closing down about 180 of its more than 800 U.S. stores. A CNBC report Wednesday cited people familiar with the situation who said the retailer was working on a proposal to keep about 200 stores open even after the liquidation.
The plan may include selling the company’s Canadian operations, along with roughly 200 of the company’s most profitable U.S. stores, to a new buyer, according to CNBC.