Brookstone China opens first store

US specialty retailer Brookstone has opened its first overseas store in one of the largest shopping centers in Nanjing, China.

First-day sales far exceeded expectations for the new outlet, says CEO Tom Via. “We’re thrilled with how enthusiastically customers are embracing their first Brookstone China store experience.”

Brookstone shops allow customers to try out products, and Via says visitors to the new outlet “love being able to try out our massagers, wear the Cat Ear headphones and see drones in action”.

Founded in 1965, Brookstone offers innovative and lifestyle products designed for smart living. It has more than 300 mall and airport stores across the US, plus an online presence and a B2B/wholesale business. Two months after filing for bankruptcy in April 2014, the company was bought by Chinese investment firm Sailing Capital and Chinese conglomerate Sanpower for more than $173 million. By July, the company had emerged from bankruptcy with a restructured balance sheet, improved capital structure and a new strategic partner with a corporate mission to introduce premium American lifestyle products to shoppers in China.

Over the years, Brookstone has built a following for its memory-foam pillows, sleep-sound machines, massagers and checkpoint-friendly luggage.

Brookstone China chairman Xin Kexia is using the slogan “Easy surprise” to position the store as a destination for people to find “surprising innovations that make life easier”.

Not only does the brand have in-house R&D teams that develop exclusive products, it also explores innovative products from makers all over the world.

“For offline commerce to have any real meaning in the future internet-based society, it must meet the spiritual needs of consumers,” says Xin Kexia, “and offer customers a richer experience. Our mission is to consistently offer fresh and exciting product that customers have never seen before.”

To help achieve this goal, the Sanpower Group has made active strategic adjustments and joined hands with Brookstone to sign a co-operation agreement with research and innovation institution MIT Media Lab.

For China, Brookstone is adopting a sales model featuring hands-on interactive shopping. Store “associates” (rather than sales persons) will show customers how to control its products.

Looking ahead, Brookstone’s China strategy will include opening independent shops in airports and high-speed railway stations, says chairman and Sanpower Group global vice-president Piau Phang Foo. It will also continue to launch store-in-stores in Sanpower’s offline retail brands, including Hisap and Smart Funtalk Telecommunications.

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