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Toys R Us names Antonio Urcelay CEO

Mae Anderson, AP Retail Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Toys R Us has named its interim CEO Antonio Urcelay as permanent chief ahead of the all-important holiday season, a move that underscores the importance of international markets to the toy retailer.

Urcelay, 61, who joined Toys R Us in 1996, had been president of the company's Europe business and was named interim CEO in May. Before joining Toys R Us he worked in the retail and consumer-packaged-goods industries in Spain. He replaced Jerry Storch, who left in February after five years on the job.

"Antonio's extensive knowledge of global markets makes him uniquely qualified to lead the organization as we expand rapidly in Asia and other parts of the world," Toys R Us' board said in a statement.

The company also named Hank Mullany to the new role of president of its U.S. business. Mullany, 55, had been CEO of The ServiceMaster Co., a residential and commercial service business and also served as an executive for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Toys R Us is facing tough competition from online stores and discounters. In its most recent quarter, its net loss widened as sales declined, hurt by cautious consumer spending and a prolonged lull in the video game sector.

Some initiatives Wayne, N.J.-based Toys R Us plans for the holiday season include offering 10 percent cash back on purchases for loyalty card members, up to $100, before Oct. 31; a price-match guarantee that extends to some online retailers; and free layaway until Dec. 15.