Localisation and acquisitions driving Samsonite’s gameplan

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on March 19, 2017

Indian design centre to come up with products for other markets too

Luggage manufacturer and retailer Samsonite is betting on a mix of local innovation and bringing products from international acquisitions to keep its hold on the market.

Samsonite brand, which controls over 90 per cent market share in the premium category of luggage in India, that retails at a price tag of over ₹10,000, growth through acquisition has been one of the strategies for diversification and market positioning. In addition, Samsonite is using its Indian design centre to come up with products that have not only become big in India, but also in other markets.

For example, five months after it launched its zip-closure suitcases made from polypropylene, called Skytracer, Samsonite is retailing the product across 80 countries. Skytracer was designed and developed at American luggage major Samsonite's Nashik facility near Maharashtra.

“Skytracer, a hard side polypropylene product, is from the design and development centre based out of Nashik, where we also have a factory," says Anushree Tainwala, Marketing Director, Samsonite South Asia. “The engineering was done in Nashik and the product is also made at the factory,” she adds.

Flurry of acquisitions

Though the popularity of Samsonite’s products, with brands like American Tourister and High Sierra, have helped drive double digit growth in sales and earnings, Samsonite International's $1.82 billion acquisition of rival Tumi in March 2016, is helping provide a sizeable boost to the bottom line.

Tainwala insists all the acquisition were in niche areas, and that they “fill a certain gap within our portfolio. In India, we have introduced around two to three of these brands, depending on what is relevant for us. We have introduced High Sierra, the US backpack outdoor brand, and Lipault," she adds.

The flurry of acquisitions over the last three-four years, wherein the parent company acquired 9-10 brands, is helping bring the latest innovations to the market. The company is not resting on its laurels though. To launch a new line of suitcases, it worked for four-five years on the Kamiliant brand.

"Kamiliant is a more mass brand than American Tourister, wherein we are targetting the lower-end of the market, which is a big market with several price points. It has been extremely successful," says Tainwala.

Jaikrishnan R, COO, Samsonite South Asia, said acquisitions have bolstered the luggage brand's strategy of offering a wide range of products through different distribution channels.

Online sales

To make greater inroads, Samsonite is going to focus on building a strong e-commerce presence, even as it continues to operate in its traditional brick-and-mortar spaces. “We are in talks to acquire an online e-tailer of luggage in the US. Though we have had a whole host of acquisitions, we would now like to push sales online," says Tainwala.

She adds that 30 per cent of sales currently is from e-commerce. “Though we have been selling through third party websites, in 2017, we are globally going to launch our own e-commerce portal. This opens up a whole new window of opportunity."

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Published on March 19, 2017
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