Toys "R" Us founder Charles Lazarus dies

WAYNE, N.J. -- Toys "R" Us founder Charles Lazarus has died as the iconic toy store he founded decades ago prepares to liquidate, the company announced Thursday.

"There have been many sad moments for Toys'R'Us in recent weeks, and none more heartbreaking than today's news about the passing of our beloved founder, Charles Lazarus," the company said in a tweet, adding that its thoughts and prayers are with Lazarus' family.

Lazarus founded a furniture store, the forerunner to the toy chain, in 1948. His death comes just a week after the company announced plans to shutter its domestic operation after a "devastating" performance during the critical holiday retail season.

The closing of the company's 740 U.S. stores, which employ more than 30,000 people, over the coming months will finalize the downfall of the chain that succumbed to heavy debt and relentless trends that undercut its business, from online shopping to mobile games.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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