BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Toy sales in Southeast Asia remain strong, with global toy giant Toys R Us continuing to thrive despite shuttering its American stores after 70 years.

Even with kids being inundated by a plethora of online games and apps, ASEAN is still a “good, robust market”, said Raymond Burt, group country director for Southeast Asia.

“We will continue to invest… in our stores across Asia. It is a market that we enjoy being in. We want to continue to bring play to children across the region and Brunei is no exception to that,” he told media on Wednesday, during the relaunching of the sultanate’s sole Toys R US branch at Mabohai Shopping Complex.

Toys R Us Asia remains unaffected by the US closures — it is a separate business entity through a joint venture between Toys R Us Inc and Fung Retailing, a unit of Hong Kong’s private Fung group.

There are currently 67 Toys R Us stores across Southeast Asia, and the company does not foresee its growth being stunted, with new stores popping up in Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in the near future.

Children playing at the Toys R Us branch in Mabohai Shopping Complex, during the toy store’s relaunching on Nov 7, 2018. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

“One of our fastest growing categories is actually our board games. What we see now is that parents are starting to try to stop or limit the amount of screen time their children have,” Burt said.

“We are seeing traditional board games and puzzles having a resurgence in sales. Parents are starting to want to have more interactions with their kids, to play with them more by getting them toys.”

Toys R Us Group Country Director for Southeast Asia, Raymond Burt, speaking to the media during the relaunching of Toys R Us in Brunei on Nov 7, 2018. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

With the relaunching of Toys R Us in Brunei, the store is expanding product range by 70 per cent. Toys that are new to market will now be available in the sultanate, including Kongsuni, a brand from Korea that just entered the market a few months ago.

“We have worked really hard with our distributors to bring toys across to Brunei, so we are bringing ranges that are available in most of our other markets, so that everyone in Brunei have the same opportunities.”

Top lenders of Toys R Us have decided to cancel the bankruptcy auction of all its assets and is instead trying to revive the Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands last month.

Although the company does not plan to expand in Brunei, the retailer does plan to introduce online purchases by next year.

“I believe that toys will still be around in the lives of children… We have seen a lot of innovations [in the toy industry] recently that mimics the demands of society.

“These kinds of fads have come, and as long as the industry can keep up with them, I’d say it would be a bright future [for the industry].”