Brookstone Names Former Toys R Us Exec As CEO

A Toys “R” Us veteran, Thomas Via, has been hired to take the helm at Brookstone Inc., a position formerly held by interim CEO Steve Schwartz, the company announced on Monday. The specialty retailer emerged from bankruptcy protection earlier this year under the ownership of Chinese investors Sailing Capital Consortium. 

Via’s position will become effective on Dec. 1. Schwartz had stepped in as interim CEO in September when then-ceo James Speltz resigned. Schwartz previously held the role of CMO and will resume the role once Via joins the team.

Via, 56, spent the past 12 years at Toys “R” Us, most recently as a senior executive of the Babies “R” Us division in the U.S. 

“My commitment [is]to really dig in here, stay for a long time for this brand, both in the U.S. and globally,” Via said of his new position with Brookstone. The company has seen nine CEOs since 2006, reports said.

Prior to joining Toys “R” Us, Via worked at Wal-Mart Canada, Payless ShoeSource, Kmart and regional department stores. 

Brookstone’s new owners, the Sailing Capital Consortium, which is made up of Chinese investment firm Sailing Capital and Chinese retailer Sanpower Group, have said that they plan to expand Brookstone’s brand abroad, including to mainland China. 

In an article from the Wall Street Journal, Via said that Brookstone’s growth is likely to come from digital sales, with the stores serving as a way to “re-educate” customers about the brand.