Brookstone Recharges Brand, Eyes Retail Expansion

After a spell in Chapter 11, Brookstone is exploring new routes to product innovation and new routes to the consumer via partnerships with other retailers.

As it celebrates its 50th anniversary in business this month, Brookstone executives want to ensure the business enters a new operational phase that opens fresh opportunities.

Tom Via, Brookstone president and CEO, told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® that Brookstone is focused on being first to market with a wide range of cutting-edge products. “Our mandate, a big piece of it, is widening the innovation pipeline,” Via said. “We’re looking in places we didn’t look before rather than taking just the traditional way of approaching things.”

With developments such as crowd funding and product incubator operations, Brookstone has a chance to get involved with inventors, makers and the array of independent product developers who are looking for ways to bring their concepts into life. The company is going “earlier upstream” to work with those who are introducing fresh product concepts and solutions that will excite and entice consumers, Via said.

Beyond Brookstone

At the same time, Brookstone has launched a program that is taking a new approach to reaching retail customers. Headed up by former Spectrum Brands executive Kevin Blossom, now operational vp/wholesale at Brookstone, the goal is expanding the Brookstone brand at retail by creating boutique, curated product assortments for major retailers.

Blossom noted that Brookstone has a catalog of thousands of products and, with a renewed emphasis on innovation, is constantly updating its assortment with items that build on emerging consumer interests. Brookstone can work with outside retailers to assemble a coherent selection that works in their market sector.

“We’ll vary by channel,” Blossom said. “We can play in a lot of areas.” The program launches with an emphasis on electronics, bed toppers, travel, gifts and entertainment. However, the program is meant to be flexible and welcome variation, so gifts might differ depending on the retail partner, including wine accessories, for example, if such products are identified as an opportunity.

Blossom said Brookstone hopes to have products on store shelves other than its own within the next several months and at least by spring 2016.

For more on Brookstone, see the September 28 issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®. With this issue: Forecast 2016, an in-depth study of consumer housewares purchase behavior and preferences across 17 core categories.