March 15 (UPI) -- Toys 'R' Us formally announced Thursday it's started the legal process to begin liquidating, and closing its stores in the United States.
The toy chain filed for bankruptcy liquidation Thursday, asking for court approval to sell off inventory in all 735 U.S. stores, Toys 'R' Us said in a statement -- a move that would precede the stores' physical closures.
"I am very disappointed with the result, but we no longer have the financial support to continue the Company's U.S. operations," Toys 'R' Us CEO Dave Brandon said.
"We are therefore implementing an orderly process to shutter our U.S. operations and will pursue going concern sales or reorganizations of certain of our international businesses, while our other international businesses consider their options."
The company said its international operations in Australia, France, Poland, Portugal and Spain are also "considering their options" in light of the liquidation announcement.
"This is a profoundly sad day for us as well as the millions of kids and families who we have served for the past 70 years," Brandon said.
Toys 'R' Us told employees Wednesday about the store closures, which could affect as many as 33,000 jobs.
Toys 'R' Us said it's engaged in discussions with "interested parties" for a potential deal that could combine as many as 200 U.S. stores with its Canadian operations. A group of toy makers, led by MGA Entertainment, submitted a bid to purchase Toys 'R' Us's Canadian arm which includes 82 stores.
In September, Toys 'R' Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it struggled to pay down nearly $8 billion in debt from a leveraged buyout in 2005.