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Samsonite aims to double turnover in 2 years

Subrata Dutta, the managing director of Samsonite, spoke to BT's Anumeha Chaturvedi about the brand's products and expansion plans.

Anumeha Chaturvedi        Last Updated: January 13, 2012  | 19:15 IST

Samsonite is the world's biggest luggage and travel brand, offering everything from backpacks, and other travel gear, to belts, wallets and shoes. It seems set to repeat its success story in India with a 42 per cent CAGR and plans of doubling the turnover every two years. Subrata Dutta, the managing director of Samsonite, spoke to BT's Anumeha Chaturvedi about the brand's products and expansion plans.

On the brands
Samsonite has a global turnover of $1.6 billion, and the Indian and Middle East market contribute about 7.5 per cent to the global turnover. Our brands include our eponymous brand Samsonite - biggest luggage brand - Samsonite Black Label at the luxury end, and American Tourister - the second biggest selling luggage brand in the world meant for value conscious travellers. Our turnover is a little over Rs 1000 crore, and we have been consistently doubling it every two years over the past five years in India, and have been growing at a CAGR of 42 per cent.

Our market share has grown from 18 per cent in 2006 to about 44 per cent today. When we entered India about 13 years ago, the luggage market was a trader oriented market dominated by the mass brand VIP. We established Samsonite as a lifestyle brand in that space. Samsonite is not just about luggage but has diversified over the past five years to include other products like belts, wallets and shoes. Shoes contribute about 7 per cent to our India turnover now. While Samsonite caters to executives on the move, American Tourister is our mass brand for family travellers.

On innovations
We believe any product, no matter how well made, has a shelf life of about 18 months. Be it a bag with four wheels or Cosmolite - the world's lightest luggage range - innovations have been the key to Samsonite's success. We launch about 6-8 new products every year. Our target Samsonite customers have a repertoire of about 10 bags by the brand. We recently launched a collection of aerial bags with a unique card lock system, which uses a transparent card to unlock the bags in place of keys and combination numbers, which people find hard to retain.

Also, the interiors of the bag can be taken out and cleaned, and this feature is being particularly liked by Indians who carry a lot of edible items while traveling. We treat Samsonite as a fashion brand, and we have done some very successful tie-ups with designers like the late Alexander Mc Queen, and Victor & Rolf for designing products for our luxury range, Samsonite Black Label, over the past few years.

On future targets and growth
We hope to continue with the growth rate of about 42 per cent to double our current turnover over the next two years. In India, the bulk of travel goods sales come from gym bags, and air bags are much more versatile than big bags, so air bags will drive our growth here. We also hope to grow the lifestyle non-travel category this year with more products under personal leather goods and shoes. We will open around 20 new stores for Samsonite and about 50 new stores for American Tourister this year.

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