Global luggage leader and second largest player in India, Samsonite, has revealed that its group’s sales in the first half of 2022 surged by almost 40 percent over the pre-Covid high of 2019, and by 110 pc over the same period in the preceding year.
Media reported the growth numbers that were revealed by Samsonite International CEO Kyle Gendreau in an investor interaction.
All luggage makers were hit during the different phases of the pandemic with people working from home and travel coming to a standstill.
Speaking with Medianews4u.com, Jai Krishnan, Chief Executive Officer – India, Samsonite South Asia, said, “We as a company could foresee this recovery very quickly so we brought in a lot of inventory. We were the only company, I think, who had the guts to invest through the pandemic – we doubled capacity at (our) Nasik (factory). It helps to have deep pockets when you want to do these things. It’s not only money but we also had the guts as an organisation, globally. I run India but it’s not that I can take the decisions without approval, but that support came. I am so thankful to the global organisation for that because when I kept saying that India will bounce back very quickly, they backed me.”
The company, which sells luggage, backpacks, bags and accessories under its Samsonite and American Tourister brands, invested in new machines and created a new warehouse measuring 5 lakh sq. ft.
“Now we are again going for a second expansion, we will start construction most probably in January or February (2023). We will complete that in one year. So by 2024 we are going to be ready for that when it booms further. In three years it will keep doubling, that’s my view,” added Krishnan.
Samsonite, which has a global legacy of 112 years, started operations at its first factory in Nasik in 1997, making the current year its 25th in India. It operates from 21 branches and four regional headquarters in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata.
Legacy Brand’s ‘Magnum Eco’
While mother brand Samsonite is the largest globally, in India it is American Tourister that leads the company’s portfolio. Samsonite now gets a new range under its wing, the Magnum Eco. Launched last year in some other markets, the range was soft launched in India a month ago.
The ‘Magnum Eco’ is billed as a durable, lightweight luggage collection that uses recycled material Recyclex. The range will help reduce carbon footprint while ensuring high performance and durability, according to the company.
According to Krishnan, the Magnum Eco collection received a good response when it was launched in stores and was put on display. “The ‘connect’ could be seen from the consumers. The price of the bag is in the same range of that of a normal Samsonite bag,” he explains.
While the outside shell of Samsonite Magnum Eco products is made of recycled polypropylene (PP), the interior fabric is made of PET bottle material. To provide context, approximately 483 yoghurt cups and 14 plastic bottles worth of recycled plastic trash are used to create a large piece of Magnum Eco luggage.
Krishnan underlined that the launch is an extension of Samsonite’s global commitment to sustainability. The company’s focus has been on using resources respectfully and making durable, high-quality products and promoting product reparability in place of disposal and replacement, he noted.
He added that the range would cater to the increasingly eco-conscious consumers of today who are unwilling to compromise on durability and style.
Advertising in Focus
Samsonite India has been working largely with in-house teams to handle its advertising requirements over the last two years. It is now in the process of inviting agencies to pitch to take forward its new campaign mandates across functions.
The company signed on cricketer Virat Kohli in 2016 for American Tourister. This was followed by a campaign featuring him in 2017 conceptualised by McCann Worldgroup.
In October 2021, the brand celebrated the fifth anniversary of its association with the former Indian team captain.
“We are looking at a very large investment in the coming six to eight months in advertising,” noted Krishnan.
With 1933-born American Tourister set to turn 90 next year, the company which acquired the brand in 1994 will look to drive home that story, among others.