Smiths City has rebranded its business as it moves to "revive" the brand.
The furniture and electronics retail chain with 25 stores across the country was sold to investment company Polar Capital, owned by Colin Neal, founder of refrigerated logistics company Big Chill, in May and has spent the past few months refreshing its look.
Smiths City will this afternoon debut its new look and logo with the opening of its new flagship Colombo St store in Christchurch.
Smiths City chief executive Tony Allison, who was appointed to lead the company on May 22, said the rebrand came as part of a new strategy to drive growth and shake reputational damage the brand had endured through its previous ownership and Employment Court - under paying staff - debacle.
"There's an element of that saying we're a new business, with new owners, doing new things - and what better way to do it than say here is the new brand and painting the outside of the stores and going full stop on that; we've changed, we're a new business," Allison told the Herald, adding that the interior of stores had a new feel to them.
Allison said the new Colombo St store modelled what future stores looked like.
The layout of the store, showcasing of products, the design and fittings, coupled with a new logo, gave the retailer a completely new feel and was "a step up from what the business was in the past", he said.
"It feels like a complete change although a lot of the products are exactly the same."
Twenty of the chain retailer's 25 stores have already been painted and rebranded, these will go through further refurbishment over the next 12 to 18 months.
The rebrand was part of a "revival" of the business' strategy, which would see it focus on partnership opportunities, Allison said. "We've also got a finance book that we're looking to grow, and looking to do that through new systems, both with changing our ERP and our finance system, which allows us to open up new partnerships."
Another focus area it would focus on was expanding its carpet offering to more stores outside the existing nine. It also plans to grow its store network to around 30 stores nationwide. Through partnerships, it could consider more, Allison said.
"We've relocated one and opened three stores in the past four months and we've got another couple of [openings] on the horizon that we are working through and a revitalisation of the current network."
Allison would not reveal how much money the company had spent and would continue to spend to rebrand and upgrade its store network.
Colin Neal of new owner Polar Capital said the ownership change meant Smiths City was able to "think hard about what the brand stands for" and re-imagine its in-store proposition.
"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," Neal said.
Smiths City hit headlines in 2018 and the business took a $1.5 million hit following an Employment Court ruling that ordered it to pay back staff for their attendance at 'voluntary' sales meetings over a six-year period.
At the end of March, Smiths City first signalled that the Covid-19 crisis had delivered a "material and significant shock" to the business.
Smiths City was sold to Polar Capital in May for $60 million and was placed into receivership to hasten the sale. As part of the takeover deal, more than 100 staff were made redundant and seven stores were closed.
The value of assets transferred to Polar Capital was around $60m, however the purchaser is assuming some debt and other liabilities and the net amount to be received is $8m.
Neal established Big Chill Distributors and sold that to Freightways and has since acquired Smiths City as well as stakes in the NZX-listed Moa and Mercer, and Pricewise.
Smiths City was founded in Christchurch in 1918.