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Abrupt BR, Toys 'R' Us bankruptcy in Nordics creates confusion

The chains' Danish parent company reversed its policy on redeeming gift cards, and store closures leave customers with just three days for exchanges, but not returns.

br-lelujen maskotti
The BR toy store mascot. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

The Nordic company that owns the toy retail chains of BR and Toys 'R' Us has filed for bankruptcy, meaning that customers that wish to exchange items have until 31 December to complete their transactions. Returns are no longer possible, the company said.

Top-Toy had begun a process of restructuring in November, but company representatives says disappointing sales over the Christmas season made continued business impossible.

Top-Toy posted operational losses of 149 million Danish crowns in the most recent financial year, and the bankruptcy was not unexpected. The US-based Toys 'R' Us chain declared bankruptcy in early 2018, closing 885 stores and leaving some 33,000 employees without work. Top-Toy said at the time that the US chain's bankruptcy would not affect its business, as it had "only bought the right to use the Toys 'R' Us brand".

Top-Toy included 71 Toys 'R' Us locations in the Nordic countries, in addition to 228 BR toy stores located in the Nordics and Germany. In Finland, the company ran eight Toys 'R' Us stores and 25 BR shops.

Now that the company has declared bankruptcy, several trustees have been appointed to handle the estate, and the firm will enter into negotiations with its creditors.

Change of policy on gift certificates

Initially, a press release from Top-Toy had stated that any outstanding gift certificates that customers may hold would not be honoured due to the bankruptcy. After significant backlash, the beleaguered company agreed to honour those gift certificates that were issued after 30 November only.

The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority confirms that the bankrupt company has the right to refuse gift cards bought before the declaration was filed.

The company says that customers with gift cards from December will be able to receive their money back via the firm's website, but not at store locations. Top-Toy media contact Lars Bo Kirk said that instructions for redeeming the gift cards would appear on the company's website shortly. He reported that things at Top-Toy have been chaotic since the company declared insolvency.

"All I can say is that we regret the misunderstanding," he told Yle Svenska.

"Owners of gift certificates should in any case submit to the trustees written notices of the money owed, so this can be noted when the bankrupt estate's assets are distributed," the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority advises on its website.

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