TOYS 'R' US PLANS MAJOR EXPANSION WITH AHOLD

LANDOVER, Md. -- After a successful initial test of four store-within-a-store sections with Giant Food here, Toys "R" Us, Paramus, N.J., has big plans for the rest of the Ahold chains in the U.S., said John Eyler, chairman and chief executive officer, during the toy retailer's recent annual meeting.The test of the "Toy Box" sections -- described by Eyler as "birthday gift stores" -- will be extended

LANDOVER, Md. -- After a successful initial test of four store-within-a-store sections with Giant Food here, Toys "R" Us, Paramus, N.J., has big plans for the rest of the Ahold chains in the U.S., said John Eyler, chairman and chief executive officer, during the toy retailer's recent annual meeting.

The test of the "Toy Box" sections -- described by Eyler as "birthday gift stores" -- will be extended to seven more Giant-Landover stores as well as 35 stores in other divisions of Ahold USA, Chantilly, Va., at the end of the summer, Barry Scher, vice president, public affairs, at Giant-Landover, told SN. Scher also holds the position of vice president, public relations and communications for Ahold USA. Three additional divisions will participate in the tests: Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., Quincy, Mass.; Tops Markets, Williamsville, N.Y.; and Giant Food Stores, Carlisle, Pa., Scher said.

"There was enough interest generated by the Giant-Landover tests that an additional 35 Ahold USA stores will further the concept by testing the Toys 'R' Us departments," Scher said.

But the toy retailer sees even more growth opportunities. "If this is as successful as we think it is, this has the potential to grow to 1,500 to 2,000 stores over the next three to five years," Eyler said at the annual meeting. Toys "R" Us executives did not return calls for comment.

It was not clear if those stores would be from Ahold or some other chain. "There is no commitment at this time for any further rollout other than these additional test stores in other Ahold USA operating companies," Scher said.

"Early tests are good enough to roll out to the second wave, which is substantial. If that is successful, then we will be off to the races," Eyler said at the meeting.

Giant Food, a division of Ahold USA, Chantilly, Va., began testing the concept last summer in one store and extended it to three more in the fall. The toy departments range from 500 to 1,000 square feet featuring impulse items like action figures and stuffed animals. The sections are merchandised by Toys "R" Us employees, according to previous reports.