How Beyond Retro Solves Critical Business Challenges With Peer-Driven Collaborative Learning


subject-matter experts


course completion rates


employee engagement

First introduced in East London in 2002, Beyond Retro is a vintage fashion brand with stores in the UK and Sweden, offering thousands of handpicked vintage and secondhand pieces every week that are trend-led and affordable. They’re part of a wider group of companies working within the circular textile economy: retail (BR), wholesale (Bank & Vogue), and remanufacturing (BVH Services).

While the day-to-day at each of these companies may be different, their fundamental goals remain the same. They are all experts at transforming discarded items into relevant and valuable pieces, and are united under one purpose to find innovative and relevant sustainable solutions.

As Ashley Emerson, Learning and Development Manager, explains, Beyond Retro has an ambitious goal. “Our mission is to find homes for 1.5 billion pounds’ worth of stuff by 2025,” she says. But to do that, Ashley first needs to provide training and support for employees.

Read on to hear how Beyond Retro guides and supports employees with peer-driven collaborative learning.

The team

Ashley Emerson | Beyond Retro
Ashley Emerson
Learning and Development Manager

The challenge

Back in 2019, Ashley realized how difficult it was to deliver face-to-face training courses single-handedly. "I was a lone L&D practitioner, trying to provide training to 10 stores across the UK and Sweden," says Ashley. The approach was inconsistent, expensive, and unscalable.

To try and reach the whole team, Ashley worked with store managers to provide face-to-face onboarding, as well as a comprehensive leadership programme that included training the trainer, as it was the store manager's responsibility to develop their teams.

At the same time, employee retention was a big issue for Beyond Retro. As a result, store managers lacked sufficient time to properly train their teams and could only provide new hires with training on key operational processes to keep their stores afloat. "When we started out, serious retention issues resulted in less time for managers to share our mission, values, and goals. We have such an inspirational story but no one was hearing it!"

Ashley’s time was mainly spent building and delivering face-to-face training with global leadership teams. But these retention issues started to impact her progress. The main challenges she faced included:

Difficulty trying to align training with people's schedules without compromising performance

Very basic employee training records 

A lack of time to evaluate training 

A lot of travel (store visits across the UK and flying to Sweden six times a year)

As a team of one, Ashley found she had to spread herself so thinly that in the end, she was only able to reach and provide training to around 20% of business leaders. 

Ashley needed to change tack. That’s when she found the perfect solution for Beyond Retro: peer-driven collaborative learning.

The solution

Peer-driven collaborative learning

Ashley was looking for a solution that would help her consistently deliver training content for the entire organisation, onboard and train new hires, and improve employee engagement and retention through professional growth and development.

When she discovered peer-driven collaborative learning, Ashley knew her needs would be met with this approach.

Simplicity and creativity

Ashley started to explore eLearning solutions. "I knew that if I could find a way to bottle our purpose, vision, and values in a fast and effective format,  we could positively impact retention and engagement," she says.

With zero experience in instructional design and managing a learning management system, she needed something that would be easy to learn but also looked great for the creative team. Luckily, Ashley found 360Learning.

"When I found 360Learning, I was blown away by how simple it was to create a course, and I loved that I could pick and choose from authoring tools like Vyond and Genially."

But the biggest advantage for Ashley was discovering that 360Learning’s unique selling point was collaborative learning.

“One of the things that attract new people to Beyond Retro is the autonomy they have and the ability to make a difference. I knew that a collaborative learning culture would be a good fit for our young creative company. I loved the idea of being able to tap into everyone's expertise to scale our L&D offering and create something really special," says Ashley.

Getting started

Ashley’s initial goal when implementing 360Learning was to enhance employee engagement and retention by providing a fun and engaging onboarding that reflected the brand's amazing culture and values. 

The first programme Ashley created, Beyond Retro World, was a chance to show the team what 360Learning could really do, so she owned the content creation. She spoke with the press and marketing team to get the brand guidelines and assets to make it feel like their space and became an animator, graphic designer, quiz master (aka instructional designer), and documentary filmmaker overnight, thanks to easy course creation in 360Learning.

“Throughout, I paired up with various subject-matter experts who told their stories and then I would digitize them. I also shared draft courses with stakeholders to get valuable feedback and determine what worked and didn't,” says Ashley.

In February 2020, Beyond Retro World was launched with much excitement from the team. But COVID-19 happened in March 2020, and people went into lockdown one month after the launch. Like most retailers during the global pandemic, many employees, including Ashley, were let go.

Fortunately, Beyond Retro's onboarding programme was a huge success and Ashley was hired back a few weeks later as part of Canada's Bank & Vogue Wholesale team to develop their digital learning strategy from scratch.

As Ashley explains, “this was an amazing opportunity to learn more about the engine behind our group of companies and tell our group story for the first time, uniting the three silos. This was a role that would have never been possible before 360Learning—this amazing technology meant I could impact our global team's development."

Project expansion: Bank & Vogue

In 2020, Bank & Vogue replicated the Beyond Retro L&D programme. Today, they've managed expansion in various L&D areas:

Four inductions for each of the silos' different audiences–BV World, BR World, and The Bank & Vogue Group–for retailers who work across all three silos like Beyond Retro.

A monthly leadership programme, known as CAPTAIN, focusing on a different topic each month, from how to give effective feedback and coaching skills to inclusive leadership.

Working across global groups and partnering with specific subject-matter experts across all business areas to create meaningful global content.

A weekly progress report is sent to global leaders to drive completion rates and increase engagement with healthy competition.

Bank & Vogue hosts a monthly webinar every last Wednesday of the month to train anyone who would like to volunteer to create content.

These results show that the new digital, collaborative learning approach has positively impacted the Beyond Retro business.

"I have gone from struggling to prove my impact to consistently sharing L&D’s global impact in a weekly newsletter to the entire organisation. We currently have 40 subject-matter experts in the community. That's 20% of the platform!" says Ashley.


Ashley has successfully proven how valuable the L&D department is as well as how peer-driven collaborative learning can help solve critical business challenges. Beyond Retro has accomplished some fantastic results:

• A 95% course completion rate

• Tripled employee engagement rates

A growing number of role-specific programmes saving hours of managers' time

• A growing author community with several volunteers who contribute to scaling L&D across companies

Consistently reaching all workers across the three groups of companies with meaningful content created by subject-matter experts: L&D has become completely decentralized to promote a culture of knowledge sharing amongst peers

• Reduced training costs

• A scalable onboarding process that provides new hires with a great experience

These results show that the new digital, collaborative learning approach has positively impacted the Beyond Retro business.

What's next for Beyond Retro?

The transition from face-to-face training to a digital and peer-driven learning approach has enabled Beyond Retro to meet its employee, and global education needs better. The brand can now offer flexible, engaging, and valuable learning while allowing the L&D team to leverage subject-matter experts to develop meaningful content.

As a result, Beyond Retro will continue collaborating with 360Learning to create a long-term roadmap for effective training. Some of the biggest projects in the pipeline include building a 5-course store manager programme, a coaching and mentoring programme, an account management programme, and collaborating with the product team on a picking programme.

"All of this is made possible thanks to our ability to grow authors and contributors to these programmes across the group of companies through collaborative learning,” says Ashley.