Toys ‘R’ Us joins list of iconic brands returning to the high street this year

Toys ‘R’ Us is opening a new store in the UK this month, joining a growing roster of iconic high street brands that are making a comeback in 2024.

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Today’s high street is unrecognisable from two decades ago. Across every UK town, beloved brands have gone into administration, replacing shop windows with shutters. That could be about to change this year, however, thanks to a wave of retail revivals.

On Monday, 90s toy chain Toys ‘R’ Us announced it will open a new shop in 2024, after it went bankrupt in 2018. It joins a list of old favourites who are banking on strong intellectual property (IP) and brand recognition in the UK to fill the gaps in today’s retail market.

Below, we’ll go through Toys ‘R’ Us’ remarkable redemption arc, as well as the other cherished brand names that are hoping to do their bit for the UK’s high street recovery.

Toys ‘R’ Us

Toys ‘R’ Us was a mecca for kids in the 90s and early 2000s. The chain had 105 locations at its peak, and its huge warehouse-style stocked everything from bikes to doll houses.

In 2018, Toys ‘R’ Us was responsible for millions of childhood traumas when it went into administration. But millennials who once shopped at the store will now be able to do so with their own kids, as the iconic brand has confirmed it will open 30 new outlets this year.

Toys ‘R’ Us has learned from its previous mistakes, however. Scaling down its huge property portfolio, the new Toys ‘R’ Us outlets will instead be run inside the stationary chain WHSmith, where shoppers can test out a few smaller gizmos and gadgets before ordering from online.

One notable new site is at the Trafford Centre shopping centre in Manchester, where a grand opening will be held this Saturday 13 July. Nine other locations have opened already in:

  • Canterbury
  • Chelmsford
  • Cheltenham
  • Cwmbran
  • Oxford
  • Poole
  • Reading
  • Solihull
  • York


Scottish clothing chain, M&Co was one of the worst-hit brands during COVID-19. Unlike omnichannel sellers, M&Co almost exclusively relied on in-person sales. As lockdown kept shoppers at home, sales slumped. In 2023, it confirmed it would close all 170 of its stores.

Then, Yours Clothing (which purchased the bankrupt M&Co’s name) confirmed that the women’s fashion brand would be making a surprise return to the high street later this year.

According to The Sun, Yours Clothing will open 50 new shops over the next two years, with the first new site set to open its doors in autumn 2024. This time, however, M&Co will also unveil a new look website and shopping app to diversify its sales channels.

Company boss Andrew Killingsworth said: “We are committed to bringing M&Co back to the high streets across the country [..] as well as providing exceptional service and an enjoyable shopping experience both online and offline.”


Even Wilko was probably surprised by the reaction its collapse last year caused. 12,500 team members lost their jobs after rescue talks broke down at the retailer, prompting a day of social media national mourning as Brits paid tribute to their favourite ‘everything’ shop.

As it turns out, they needn’t have worried. No sooner had Wilko closed its 400 stores had The Range owner, Chris Dawson stepped up to purchase its name and famous red signage.

Dawson has since confirmed that Wilko plans to reopen another 300 stores, with five already open and another 50 in the pipeline. Exact opening dates are yet to be confirmed for Wilko’s new UK portfolio but the brand has now begun welcoming customers in:

  • Plymouth
  • Exeter
  • Luton
  • St Albans
  • Rotherham


Woolworths was one of the most beloved UK shops, having operated for 100 years in the UK. Despite ‘Woolies’ going out of business in 2009 after the financial crash, its memory lives on. Each month, 33,000 Brits still type ‘Woolworths’ into Google Search.

Their tenacity was rewarded earlier this year. In January, parent company HH Holding – who bought the company’s German branch where it is known as Woolworth – said the UK is on his “bucket list” of destinations to expand the chain internationally.

Nothing has so far been confirmed, but this news is the clearest sign yet that a return to the UK high street could be in the retailer’s mid to long-term future.

“I don’t know of any brands where the recognition will be as high as it is in Britain, without having any stores,” HH Holding CEO, Roman Heini, told Retail Week, adding that he had the opportunity to “make Woolworth great again”.

What does this mean for retailers?

Brands such as Toys ‘R’ Us, Wilkos, and even Woolworths are all potentially coming back from the dead this year. If they do, though, the high street will not be a ghost town.

That large businesses are once again banking on the high street is a rare ray of hope for retailers. According to a Natwest survey, 43% of Brits now visit their high street just once a month. 30% say they have seen an uplift in the number of vacant shops and vandalism.

As footfall dwindles, customers feel less inclined to visit their local shops and spend locally, worsening the problem and creating challenges for sellers. Thankfully, the news that a recognisable, cherished name may be coming back could help to break this cycle.

Shoppers enticed in by the big names will then be more likely to stick around for the offerings of independent shops and other businesses such as pubs, restaurants, and bars.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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