Big-box retailer Toys 'R' Us said Wednesday it is closing more than 180 stores around the country, and four of those are in Minnesota.
Operating under Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy, Toys 'R' Us revealed the full list of 182 stores targeted for closure in a filing this week. Some set to close are Babies 'R' Us locations.
Closings are set to begin in February and should largely be complete by mid-April, the company said. The bankruptcy court still must sign off on the closings.
Four Twin Cities stores are listed as closing: the Toys 'R' Us outlets in Minnetonka and Blaine, and the Babies 'R' Us stores in Woodbury and Richfield.
That would leave the retailer with four locations in Minnesota: Burnsville, Maple Grove, Maplewood and Rochester.
Toys 'R' Us wouldn't say how many jobs will be cut. It said some employees will be moved to other stores and those who cannot be will get severance.
The retailer, based in Wayne, N.J., has been buried under $5 billion in debt and filed for bankruptcy in September. At that time, the company had roughly 1,600 Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us locations.
Analysts have said that Toys 'R' Us is finding it increasingly difficult to coexist with Amazon and needs to improve its online services and offer special experiences in the stores.
"The reinvention of our brand requires that we make tough decisions about our priorities and focus," said company CEO Dave Brandon in a letter released Wednesday on the retailer's website. "Following a top-to-bottom assessment of our business, we have decided to close a number of our U.S. stores. … The actions we are taking are necessary to give us the best chance to emerge from our bankruptcy proceedings as a more viable and competitive company."
Brandon added that the retailer also intends to merge operations of an unspecified number of Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us outlets that share the same location.
He acknowledged some missteps in the critical holiday shopping season.
"I want you to know that we can and will address the gaps in the experience that you may have had when shopping this holiday," his letter continued. "My team is already hard at work to make the improvements necessary to ensure that we have the products you want, when, where and how you want them."
Gerrick Johnson, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, had estimated that holiday sales at the company's North America stores were down more than 10 percent. He attributed much of the decline to people's confusion around the bankruptcy filing and a fear of buying gifts at Toys 'R' Us because they thought they wouldn't be able to return them if needed. Johnson also blamed a weak marketing campaign and e-mail promotions that didn't create a sense of urgency.
Toys 'R' Us was a major force in the 1980s and early 1990s, and one of the first national retailers that focused on one sales category with discount prices. That combination hurt mom-and-pop stores that couldn't match depth of inventory or price.
While its share of the market has been dwindling, Toys 'R' Us sells about 20 percent of the toys bought in the United States, according to one industry analyst.