Louis Lipschitz, the man who played a key role in keeping the finances of the giant toy company Toys ‘R’ Us strong, passed away at the age of 69 after a brief illness.
As the chief financial officer of Toys ‘R’ Us, Lipschitz led his company from 300 stores and annual sales of less than $2 million during the 1980s to a powerful institution consisting of over 1600 outlets and $11 billion in 2004, the year of his retirement. When Lipschitz left there was more than $2 billion in cash available. Just one year later a leveraged buyout brought the company to private status the result of which was to add over $5 billion in debt to the company’s balance sheets.
During his 18 years as the CFO Lipschitz led the company’s quarterly conference calls with analysts. He was viewed as a warm and friendly man who was nevertheless a tough money manager.
“I recall Lou as a man who could surprise people on Wall Street with his warmth and humor,” said Sean McGowan, managing director, equity research at Needham & Co. in New York, and a leading toy industry analyst. “At first, it might appear that he was a classic ‘bean counter’, and in fact he had a sharp financial mind, but if you got to talk to him outside of that role, he was a gentle, warm, funny guy,” he said.