The Toy Store owner ceases UAE operations leaving suppliers ‘owed millions’

The Dubai-headquartered Gulf Greetings General Trading LLC – owner of the toy retail brand The Toy Store – has abruptly ceased its operations, closing stores across some of the biggest shopping malls in UAE in what has been called an “unmitigated disaster” by a number of suppliers now left out of pocket.

The business is the exclusive representative of Hallmark Cards for the GCC region and is the owner of The Toy Store, a chain of eight branded toy shops that boasted major units across sites such as Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall.

The company operated a total retail space of 125,000 square feet across the Middle East and had distribution centres in every GCC country, with almost 400 employees across the region.

Established in the 1980s, the company’s 30 year history came to an abrupt end when suppliers received an email from Gulf Greetings Management informing them of the closure of the business, citing “unavoidable and unprecedented circumstances.” The business then shut down with immediate effect.

“We would ask that you treat this situation with humility and respect for the long-standing relationship between our businesses,” read the email. “While certain members of the team will remain over the next few weeks, their ability to assist in individual situations will be very limited.

“Please accept our apologies for the disruption this will inevitably cause, I assure you the effect this has on the owners, Management and the entire Gulf Greetings team is devastating and would have been avoided at all costs if at all possible.”

According to ArabianBusiness.com The Toy Store has now been removed from Mall directory listings and customer service representatives have confirmed the closure. The Toy Store’s online operations are no longer functioning, with a notification stating that sites ‘are currently under maintenance.’

The Toy Store was a one time occupant of London’s Oxford Street where it opened a flagship store in 2016. The operation – that at the time stated had set itself apart by offering branded experiential shopping for customers – lasted less than a year before closing.

Suppliers of The Toy Store have said that more than 100 alone in the UAE would likely be affected by the sudden closure, while international companies are also likely to be hit.

Speaking anonymously with Arabian Business, suppliers have told of some accounts being owed as much as AED2.5 million, even AED7 million.

One supplier told the media outlet: “What we are being told is that it is unlikely that we will get any of that money back, especially when there are giants such as the banks or the malls in front of us in the queue.

“What is incredible was that I was speaking with the CFO on Thursday and was given no indication this was about to happen. I still have cheques from the company dated January 2021.

“The company has been struggling to pay for some time now, this predates coronavirus by years, the pandemic has only accelerated this. It is an unmitigated disaster.”

Others have speculated that retrieving stock from store that are now shut will be impossible as it is likely that it will be ‘auctioned off by malls still owed rent.’

ToyNews has approached Gulf Greetings General Trading LLC for comment and is awaiting response.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of ToyNews and its sister title, Licensing.biz. He has worked his way from Staff Writer to Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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