A retail phoenix has arisen from the ashes with appliance and furniture retailer Smiths City relaunching after Covid-19 forced it into receivership earlier this year.
The company was sold to the investment fund, Polar Capital, for $60 million in May, as the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns significantly impacted trading.
As part of the relaunch, the company has undergone a significant rebrand, opened three new stores, including its flagship store in Christchurch, and made a commitment to meet the needs of rural customers.
“One of the key things when we went through Covid and [Polar Capital] picked [the company] up, the loss making stores that were dragging us down … they got closed down,” Smiths City managing director Tony Allison said.
“The other thing is we’ve come in straight away and invested in new systems, so both in terms of our enterprise resource planning system and our finance company system.”
Allison said the company was also working hard to improve the in-store customer experience.
“We don’t want to be a shouting at people and saying ‘come here, buy this, do that’, what we want to do is be a good honest retailer.”
He said the company’s rebrand, which included changing its colour scheme, was part of its strategy to be less “shouty”.
Polar Capital’s Colin Neal said the recent acquisition had given Smiths City the chance to re-evaluate what the company stood for.
“We are de-emphasising the ‘city’ from the brand in recognition of everything we are not. We are not big ‘city’. Our most successful stores are not big city, they are regional heartland New Zealand.”
“We see ourselves as a valued, trusted partner in the heart of our communities and that’s where we want to be. We just see ourselves as locals within those cities; knowledgeable and a straight-talking bunch of Kiwi good buggers.”
Smiths City has 25 stores nationwide.