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The team ethic behind Smyths' rebrand of Toys R Us

It is just over a year to the day that Ireland-headquartered Smyths Toys purchased 93 stores from the collapsed Toys R Us chain, and in the period since it has been working fast to rebrand and integrate its new acquisition.

With over 100 stores already in operation across Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland prior to last year’s move, the business effectively doubled overnight when it took on the failed Toys R Us’s shops in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

According to Smyths creative director, Kevin MacArthur, the last 12 months have been a busy but exciting time for the retailer. In his presentation to delegates at RetailEXPO 2019, he explained that the business has been successful in its work to date and the integration process because of a joined-up approach to projects within the organisation.

This method of working will help Smyths as it continues its growth story, potentially in new European markets in the months ahead, MacArthur said.

“We’ve just done the rebranding and acquisition of Toys R Us in central Europe, and a big part of that is to implement [our model on the acquired business],” he noted.

“We have taken down physical barriers in the workplace so teams can communicate better. For each project we do within our organisation, we make sure there is communication from buyers, design, marketing, and then we then start a project.”

He added: “We have been using cross-functional teams across the workplace in many ways for many years now. It’s always a work in progress [to find the right working model], but we have been using them to implement the redesign of central Europe.”

MacArthur said that cross-functional teams help create consistency and transparency in terms of everyday working operations within an organisation, adding that they are particularly crucial in the “omnichannel” era of retail when brand consistency across channels is vital to attract, engage, and keep customers.

“Organisations that can provide this consistent experience build customer trust and credibility,” he argued.

“When teams know the needs of different departments, this allows them to understand each other and communicate clearly. This breaks down silos and allows information to be shared across the company horizontally rather than up and down a chain of command.”

MacArthur said: “Having buy-in from different stakeholders right from the beginning of [a project] and teams knowing the needs of each one of the channels allows them to clearly communicate consistent visual design, content, tone of voice and functionality. Creating cross-functional workplaces is one way we can work towards true consistency.”