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India a bagful of opportunities: Samsonite

Going strong:Considering the price sensitive Indian market, the company is rolling out value-for-money products.— File Photo  

American luggage major Samsonite International SA believes India could emerge as its third biggest market globally, surpassing Korea, in a few years’ time.

This is considering the growth witnessed in the branded luggage segment here and the rising purchasing power of Indian consumers, a top company official said. Samsonite has multiple brands such as Hartman, Tumi, American Tourister, High Sierra and Samsonite in its portfolio.

India is currently the fourth biggest market for Samsonite after the US, China and Korea, and has been growing at a rate of 12-13 per cent per year for the last four to five years. The growth is expected to be faster as the company is rolling out value-for-money products to counter locally-made unbranded luggage and house brands, the official said.

“India is one of the fastest growing markets for us and we believe it will be our third biggest market globally in the next three to five years as we are expecting more business from our recently introduced luggage brand Kamiliant by American Tourister, which is targeted at the mass category. India can overtake Korea,” Ramesh Tainwala, Global Chief Executive Officer, Samsonite International SA, told The Hindu .

He said Samsonite, which is a mid-segment luggage brand in the US, is considered a super premium brand in India — the price range starts from Rs 10,000. This could be a deterrent for consumers.

To address this perception, the company, a few years back, rolled out American Tourister, acquired six years ago. The range, with prices starting at around Rs 4,000, has been accepted well.

Now, the company has introduced Kamiliant, which starts at Rs 3,000. With this, it aims for a large-scale conversion of consumers from unbranded to branded luggage, Mr Tainwala said.

“When Samsonite entered India in the mid-90s, we had a suitcase range called Oyster, which was priced at Rs 3,000, and this was competing with the most premium Indian brand, VIP, which was priced at Rs 700. We faced a tough time in the initial years. Now, we have broad based our range of offerings and are confident that we will do well in India in the coming years,” Mr Tainwala, who set up Samsonite India in 1994-95 and grew to be the company’s global CEO, said.

He said considering the price sensitive Indian market, the company was rolling out value-for-money products and would expand its retail footprint to reach out to new customers. The luggage market in India is estimated at Rs 5,000 crore, 50 per cent of which is controlled by unbranded or house branded luggage priced below Rs 2,000.

“We introduced Kamiliant two months back and the response has been overwhelming. We hope Kamiliant will get us the volume and be one of our major growth drivers here. We also expect better sales from the e-commerce platforms and through our retail operations,” he said.

The company has embarked on a store expansion plan in India to aggressively promote its Samsonite brand. It will have retail outlets in major Tier 2 airports across the country to target well-off customers. Besides, it is expanding its retail presence across the country. Currently, the company’s products are sold at 2,000 points of sale, including 175 retail stores. It plans to add 25 new stores a year for the next five years, Mr Tainwala said.

Other than retail expansion and brand building, the company has no investment plans in India, where it runs a manufacturing facility at Nashik since 1998.



India is the fourth biggest market for Samsonite after the US, China and Korea



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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 7:53:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/business/india-a-bagful-of-opportunities-samsonite/article8530944.ece

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