Norwich’s Toys R Us store could face closure unless rent reduction is agreed

PUBLISHED: 11:32 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:21 06 December 2017

Toys R Us has put forward plans to close at least 26 UK stores, putting up to 800 jobs at risk. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

Toys R Us has put forward plans to close at least 26 UK stores, putting up to 800 jobs at risk. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

The Norwich branch of Toys R Us could face closure unless bosses can renegotiate its rent or downsize within seven months, it has emerged.

The store was spared the axe in the first round of closures which were announced by the struggling retailer earlier this week.

But documents filed as part of the chain’s company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposals show that the Norwich store in Westwick Street has been included in the third tier of stores ranked by their performance.

Those shops are loss-making, after overheads are considered, and are not selling enough for their size, say insolvency experts who have compiled the plans.

As a result, stores in that group need “immediate rent reduction” to restore profitability and either down-sizing or investment will be needed to make the sites viable in the future.

The proposed reduction is 35% now with a further 15% cut from the current rates in seven months if a down-sizing agreement is not agreed.

But even with a rent reduction “these sites may not be sustainable unless [Toys R Us] is able to agree a plan with the relevant landlords in relation to the sub-division of the stores and related capital expenditure within seven months of the CVA being implemented”, the advisers warn.

The Norwich site is owned by Dorset County Council. Landlords of sites deemed to be in the third tier are expected to see a return of 85.63p in the pound under the CVA, against an estimated return of 8.79p in the pound if the company goes into administration.

Creditors will vote on December 21 on the CVA proposals, which have been drawn up as Toys R Us struggles to respond to changing customer habits and a move away from the “warehouse-style” stores it rolled out in the 1980s and 1990s.

Earlier this week it announced it would close 26 stores in spring 2018 with the expected loss of up to 800 jobs.

Of the chain’s other East Anglian branches, Cambridge will close next year while Ipswich was included in the top tier of stores deemed to be “performing adequately [or] otherwise valuable to the group from a strategic perspective”.

Dorset County Council has been approached for comment.

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