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Toys R Us parent company in ‘urgent search for a buyer’

Toys R Us’ US parent company has begun an urgent search for a buyer amid suggestions that poor Christmas trading has left the British business facing cashflow issues.

Sources said on Wednesday this week that advisers at Alvarez & Marshal and Lazard, which are overseeing the chain’s bankruptcy protection process in the US, have sounded out potential buyers for the UK operations in recent days.

One insider told Sky News that the company, which currently employs about 3,200 people in Britain, was looking to seal a sale within weeks.

The search for another owner will raise urgent questions about the fate of Britain’s biggest toy retailer if new investment cannot be found, with administration said to be a possible outcome.

The latest development casts new doubt over the future employment of around 2,400 workers who thought their jobs had been salvaged when a restructuring deal called a CVA was approved by creditors three days before Christmas.

In a statement issued on Wednesday night, a Toys R Us UK spokesman said: "The US business is exploring a number of options as it develops plans to exit Chapter 11.

"These conversations are confidential but I can assure you that they are acting in the best interests of employees, business partners, shareholders and lenders."

The CVA deal secured the eleventh-hour support of the PF after the company agreed to pay almost £10m into its pension scheme over the next three years.

Retail industry sources said it was conceivable that buyers would emerge for the UK operations of Toys R Us, but it was unclear whether any party acquiring the business would be content with the scale of the existing restructuring plan. 

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