Samsonite sales rise to record levels
Strong tourism growth propels luggage maker to US$1.77b sales as Asia market expands
Net sales at Samsonite International, the world's largest luggage company, rose 13.2 per cent last year to a record US$1.77 billion as international tourist arrivals grew 4 per cent to more than one billion for the first time.
"The growth of tourism and travel, which underpins our business, has been strong," said chairman Timothy Parker.
"Not only is Asian tourism growing at a fast rate, the increase in the number of routes flown by budget airlines continues to drive demand."
Sales in the Chinese market jumped 20.4 per cent, driven by a strong performance from its American Tourister brand and the continuing increase in points of sale.
"China will remain the linchpin of our Asian business, and we will continue to invest in new retail distribution. Last year we added 200 points of sale in China to bring the total to just less than 1,000," Parker said.
American Tourister, the firm's entry-level brand, posted net sales of US$354.6 million, an increase of 41.9 per cent from 2011.
"The contribution that the American Tourister brand made is significant. The more affordable American Tourister product ranges are finding a large market of middle-income customers from Asia," Parker said.
Samsonite generated US$203 million of cash from operating activities last year and is currently sitting on a net cash pile of US$116 million.
When asked about the company's strong cash position, Parker said: "Samsonite has very good global exposure at the moment but will look at interesting opportunities.
"We have made two 'small' acquisitions [Hartmann and High Sierra] last year and will only look at acquiring well-established brands with plans of exposure to emerging markets."
The luggage firm is revamping its luxury line, Hartmann, with plans to introduce the line to Asia by the end of the year.
"We are pushing for Hartmann to be released in Asia by the end of this year. It is a terrific long-term prospect for us," said Kyle Gendreau, Samsonite's chief financial officer.