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Hobby Lobby, Burlington, TJX likely to occupy Toys R Us stores

Kimco Realty Corp. CEO Conor Flynn told The Wall Street Journal on July 5 that Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., Burlington Stores Inc. and TJX Cos. Inc. are among the retailers expected to move into vacated Toys R Us stores.

The announcement comes after Toys R Us closed more than 700 stores across the U.S. on June 29, a week after the defunct toy retailer opted not to reorganize in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, according to the report.

Several retailers made bids on Toys R Us locations in bankruptcy court, including Big Lots Inc., Scandinavian Designs, Ashley Homestores Ltd. and Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings Inc., the Journal reported, citing a filing.

Flynn said many of the larger empty big-box storefronts will be occupied by hobby stores soon. Meanwhile, he said standard Toys R Us stand-alone stores — measuring about 35,000 square feet — will likely be attractive to off-price retailers, fitness centers and specialty grocers. Smaller Toys R Us stores — about 20,000 to 25,000 square feet each — are a "perfect fit" for retailers like TJX, Flynn added.

In June, Flynn told a Jefferies Global Consumer Conference in Nantucket, Mass., how aggressive Hobby Lobby is, adding that traditional grocers and larger fitness businesses are the stores that want to continue expansion, according to the Journal report.

In January, Hobby Lobby hit the 800-store mark, and the company plans to open 60 more stores and hire about 2,500 employees this year, according to the report.

Apparel retailer Burlington Stores had 647 stores in its fiscal first quarter of 2018, with plans to open 35 more this year, the Journal reported. Burlington CEO Thomas Kingsbury said the liquidation of Toys R Us could yield more stores for its company, as was the case when Sports Authority collapsed.