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Toys R Us announces aggressive expansion plan in China, U.S.

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Toys R Us Inc., the Wayne-based retail giant, plans to open more than 100 stores amid an expansion and renovation plan focused largely on China, the company announced today.

The global retailer already has started operating several of the 22 new stores scheduled to open this year in China, under a plan it says a priority after launching an e-commerce site and opening its first stores in Beijing last year. By the end of the year, the company plans to operate 51 stores in 27 cities throughout the country.

The United States will be the second-largest growth area for the company, which until April had been stuck in limbo over plans to go public, while grappling with the resignations of top executives. In a news release today, Toys R Us said it will convert or relocate 19 stores here, including nine new outlet stores.

In a prepared statement, interim CEO Antonio Urcelay said the expansion is a piece of the company's "long-term strategy — advancing our business in international markets with high growth potential, and the continued integration" of its Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands under one roof.

In October 2011, Toys acquired the majority stake of its in business in greater China and Southeast Asia from Fung Retailing, the news release said. The move allowed the company to own and control 70 percent of its licensed operations in the region.

The new store locations are throughout 21 of the 36 counties and jurisdictions in which Toys operates, according to a news release. The growth will add more than 900,000 square feet of retail space to the company's store portfolio.

None of the relocation or conversion projects is in New Jersey, where the company has had its headquartered for much of its 65 years. The retail giant was publicly traded from 1978 to 2005, at which point it was acquired by a private equity group.

Reporter Joshua Burd is @JoshBurdNJ on Twitter.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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