By Tracy Rucinski
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Vendors to Toys 'R' Us have resumed shipping top products, a bankruptcy lawyer said on Tuesday, allowing the retailer to stock its shelves ahead of the all-important holiday season.
"Inventory is on the shelves," Joshua Sussberg, an attorney with the company's law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, said at a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing in Richmond, Virginia, adding that the company was well-stocked with the "latest and greatest" in toys.
Toys 'R' Us generates roughly 40 percent of total revenues in the fourth quarter, and industry experts have expressed concern over the big-box retailer's ability to retain vendors and customers after its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on Sept. 19.
At the time of the filing, nearly 40 percent of its trade base had stopped shipments. Now, 100 percent of merchandise vendors that supply the top 20 products are actively shipping, followed by 49 of the top 50 vendors and 91 of the top 100, Sussberg said.
However, Toys 'R' Us still owes creditors $5 billion, and at least two major toymakers, Hasbro Inc <HAS.O> and Jakks Pacific, have warned that the bankruptcy would hurt their business this year.
Some smaller toymakers have decided to stop shipments.
Wayne, New Jersey-based Toys 'R' Us, which also owns the Babies 'R' Us chain, is among dozens of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers that have struggled under high debt as more consumers shop online.
Toys 'R' Us is saddled with debt from a $6.6-billion buyout in 2005 by KKR & Co LP, Bain Capital LP and real estate investment trust Vornado Realty Trust.
As part of its plan to restructure and entice customers, it wants to add event space, hands-on product demonstrations and combine its flagship and Babies 'R' Us stores.
Some investors were skeptical over the outlook for big-box retailers.
"The opportunity for Toys is difficult given the amount of leverage it had when it entered bankruptcy, as well as its current operating trends," said George Schultze, distressed specialist and head of Schultze Asset Management. "The outlook in retail is terrible, even for big companies like Toys, so there isn't a lot of new capital available for that industry."
Meanwhile, the unsecured creditors committee, which includes Mattel Inc <MAT.O>, LEGO Systems and Simon Property Group Inc <SPG.N>, plans to investigate financial transactions made before the Chapter 11 filing, lawyer Kenneth Eckstein said on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by David Gregorio)