Toys R Us, the iconic 70-year old retail toy store, is closing its doors for good.
A spokesperson for the Wayne, New Jersey-based company told NBC News Wednesday that the chain is winding down its U.S. business and liquidating inventory in all 735 of its U.S. stores.
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The move would affect as many as 33,000 jobs across the nation.
"This is a profoundly sad day for us as well as the millions of kids and families who we have served for the past 70 years,” said CEO Dave Brandon in a statement announcing the changes.
“I am very disappointed with the result, but we no longer have the financial support to continue the company’s U.S. operations," he continued. "We are therefore implementing an orderly process to shutter our U.S. operations and will pursue going concern sales or reorganizations of certain of our international businesses, while our other international businesses consider their options.”
In September last year the chain filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, noting that it had $5 billion in debt to repay. Despite a strong holiday season, the beleaguered retailer announced in January that it would have to close 180 stores, and on Wednesday it said it would close all stores in the U.K.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer said Wednesday in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, “With the entire Toys R Us operation at risk of shutting its doors for good, I am urging the company to redeem outstanding gift cards for cash. It appears the music is about to stop for the iconic retailer and consumers could be left in the lurch when it comes to the loss of a whole lot of money in unspent gift cards."
Toys R Us is the latest victim of a changing economy, amid tough competition from online retailers like Amazon. Just this month, JCPenney announced 360 jobs would be cut, and earlier this year Macy’s announced it would be axing 5,000 positions.
The collapse of the toy empire where generations of Americans flocked to buy their games, their first bike, and their Barbie dolls, is a massive blow to the toy industry as a whole: Mattel and Hasbro both saw their stock sink in recent days as news spread of the toy dynasty's implosion. Toys R Us represents about 10 percent of their revenue, reported Reuters.