Toys R Us Inc., the second-largest U.S. toy retailer, said Tuesday it named Gerald L. Storch, a former Target Corp. executive with experience in rejuvenating tired retailers, as its new chairman and CEO.
Storch fills the top spot left open when John H. Eyler departed in July, after the company was taken private. Rick Markee, who served as the interim CEO since Eyler's departure, will continue in an executive capacity as vice chairman of the company and president of the Babies R Us division.
Storch, 49, who abruptly departed Target last October and who had been widely seen as the potential successor to Chairman and CEO Robert Ulrich, was responsible for several of Target's most important operations: financial services; technology, including the chain's Web site; distribution and strategic planning. Storch led the development of the SuperTarget grocery strategy and the turnaround of its former Marshall Field's division.
Storch joined Target in 1993 as senior vice president and became vice chairman in 2001. Before that, he was a partner at McKinsey & Co., specializing in retail and financial services.
Wayne, New Jersey-based Toys R Us is owned by an investment consortium including private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Bain Capital Inc. and real estate developer Vornado Realty Trust.
In the toys business, competition from discounters have resulted in bankruptcies of FAO Schwarz and K-B Toys Inc. Both have re-emerged from bankruptcy as scaled-down merchants with repositioned merchandising approaches.
To fight back, Toys R Us has increased its offerings of exclusive toys and redesigned its store format, but its efforts haven't resulted in a dramatic turnaround of the company.
In its first announcement on store closings since Toys R Us went private last year, the retailer said in January it will shutter 87 locations in coming months but plans to convert 12 of those into Babies R Us. stores. The company didn't say which of its 674 U.S. Toys R Us stores will close.
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