March 13, 2018 03:36:16by

Shoppers reminisce as Toys R Us stores across UK close their doors

Shoppers reminisce as Toys R Us stores across UK close their doors

It is the end of an era for Britain's largest toy retailer as Toys R Us closes three more of its UK stores today. 

Shoppers have been misty-eyed as they've recalled their special memories of the popular outlet, dogged by financial difficulty in recent months.   

The chain was plunged into liquidation in January after failing to pay a £15million VAT bill, putting 3,200 jobs across the country at risk.

The future for the business remains uncertain as administrators Moorfields battle to find a buyer.

So far, 25 stores have been earmarked for closure but the remaining 81 stores will continue to be open for 'closing down sales'. 

But some bargain hunters scouring the shelves have been left disappointed by 'rubbish' discounts. 

The Sun newspaper pointed out a number of the items on sale in Toys R Us were available cheaper in John Lewis and Wilkinsons.

Father Phil Kennedy, who paid a trip to the chain's Derby branch last week, said: 'The atmosphere wasn't too bad to be fair although it did feel more like a warehouse than a shop. 

'There were no bargains though, I was mainly surprised that there weren't more reductions in all honesty. 

'My main memories as a child was feeling like I was in the toy equivalent of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. It was a brilliant as a child - but a nightmare as a parent. Never go to Toys R Us with your children.'  

In Oldbury, West Midlands yesterday, the aisles were nearly completely empty as just one shopper roamed the store alone. 

Despite the well-publicised closing down sale offering up to 25 per cent off, staff said it had been incredibly quiet.

A worker told MailOnline they did not know when the shop would be shutting for good and said they felt uncertain about their future. 

Those online have shared their thoughts on the store's shock closure. Twitter user Amie wrote: 'Just dawned on me that we won't hear the fab Toys R Us song at Christmas this year. 

'This makes me feel really sad. Like a piece of my childhood has died.' 

It is understood the firm struggled with cash flow pressures after sales were squeezed by worse-than-expected trading over the crucial Christmas period.

A checkout worker, who did not wish to be named, said: 'We've received warnings about a potential administration and obviously heard bits and bobs on the news. 

'It's been a very scary time, especially when you have children like me.

'I've been working here for a few years and now I don't know what to do. I'm just hoping that things will work out for the best, but you never know, do you?

'Jobs in retail are hard to get hold of these days. If I lose my job here, there's a possibility that I might have to retrain for.

'This is close to home for me, it's easy to sort out the kid's day in day out. If I lost that then things would become very difficult, and I'd imagine other employees would have similar concerns.' 

 Toys R Us launched in the UK in 1985. The firm's US parent company filed for bankruptcy protection last year after racking up debts of more than £3.5billion.

It paints a dark picture of the British high street as New Look announced it was axing 1,000 jobs and closing 60 stores last week.  

Electronics chain Maplin announced similar financial difficulties last week, with 2,500 jobs at risk.  

When was Toys R Us founded and how did it collapse?

In 1948, war veteran Charles Lazarus opened his first baby furniture store, Children's Bargain Town, in Washington, D.C.Two years later, Lazarus began to sell toys and he soon realised that unlike furniture, toys fell out of fashion or broke - prompting parents to return to the store to buy more.In June 1957, he restructured his business and opened his first store solely dedicated to toys - creating the Toys R Us brand.   By the early 1980s Toys R Us looked to diversify and the company branches out into children's clothing when it opened Kids R Us stores in Paramus, New Jersey, and Brookyln, New York.The firm also went international when it opened outlets in Canada and Singapore.The chain came to the UK in 1985 and now boasts 105 outlets across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.In 1998, it realised the potential of the internet and allowed people to buy items online from R Us’ UK arm was plunged into crisis last year after its American parent company declared bankruptcy in the US and Canada.Bankruptcy proceedings in the US work differently to the UK, with companies able to seek court backing for a plan to rescue their business if they have the support of lenders.At first Toys R Us said stores in Britain would not be affected but soon afterwards bosses here announced they would axe hundreds of jobs and a quarter of the chain’s 105 stores in a bid to balance the books. Its bid to push the changes through under a so-called company voluntary agreement hit a stumbling block, however, because of a row over a £30million black hole in its pension scheme.Toys R Us needed approval from the Pension Protection Fund, which refused to give it unless the firm injected nearly £10m into its retirement pot.After a tense showdown, bosses eventually agreed to pay £3.8million this year and another £6million over 2019 and 2020.That deal was supposed to give the company breathing space, but it plunged into administration today.The news comes as the US arm of toy giant plans to close a further 200 stores putting thousands of jobs at risk as it attempts to avoid a total collapse of the business.Toys R Us closed 182 stores in the US last year, hitting 4,500 employees.The decision to close another 200 stores would take the total to almost 400 - roughly half of its estate in the US.It comes after the retailer saw disappointing sales over the crucial Christmas period as demand for online shopping continues to hammer the High Street in the UK and in the US.