Samsonite Buys Tumi In $1.8 Billion Deal

If you’re a business traveler who values quality luggage, there’s a decent chance you have a Tumi carry-on. My primary bag is a Tumi Alpha International. While it’s not the most bedazzled bag out there, it’s well designed, durable, and compact.

Tumi-Alpha

Back in the day I found Tumi had amazing service, where they’d fix just about anything. Over the years I’ve found the service has deteriorated a bit, or perhaps they’ve just become more “by the book.” My decision making process in buying a Tumi nowadays has very little to do with service after the sale.

We’ve seen a lot of consolidation in the airline and hotel industry lately, and now we’re seeing it in the luggage industry as well. It was announced today that Samsonite will buy Tumi in a $1.8 billion deal. The plan is to still keep around both brands (after all, it would be silly to kill a brand which is perceived to be high end), and to also allow Samsonite to finally have a decent presence in the high end luggage business, which they previously never did well in.

The Washington Post has a good rundown of the logic behind the deal:

“We always wanted to have a play in this segment, but we have never been able to do it in a very credible way,” said Ramesh Tainwala, Samsonite’s chief executive, on a conference call with investors.

Still, Samsonite seems committed to maintaining Tumi’s premium positioning in the marketplace, saying that the acquisition made sense in large part because Tumi brought something different to Samsonite’s portfolio:  In addition to its flagship brand, Samsonite also includes Hartmann, American Tourister, High Sierra and other travel bags that aren’t at Tumi’s upscale price point and aren’t as focused on the needs of business travelers.

Samsonite said it intends to expand Tumi’s reach in international markets. Currently the brand gets 68 percent of its sales in North America, with just 17 percent coming from Asia and 14 percent from its Europe, Middle East and Africa division. Tainwala also said it thinks Tumi could do a stronger business in hardside luggage, which today makes up a relatively small share of the brand’s sales.

As consumers I doubt we’ll see very many changes as a result of this takeover. Samsonite already owns several other luggage brands, none of which were especially luxurious. Presumably Tumi luggage will begin to be sold at Samsonite stores, and it’ll also be interesting to see what impact this has on brick and mortar Tumi stores (I’ve always wondered if those stores are actually profitable, or if Tumi simply felt they needed them as a way to showcase their brand).

Bottom line

It’s an interesting takeover for Samsonite, as it’s their first real entry into the high end luggage sector. There’s a chance this could impact some of Tumi’s brick and mortar stores, and also perhaps the service. But overall I’d say there aren’t too many other implications for consumers as of now, perhaps other than more widespread availability of Tumi bags, both in further locations internationally, as well as in Samonsite stores.

What do you make of Samsonite’s takeover of Tumi?

Comments

  1. Briggs and Riley is by far the best luggage out there. Their service and quality is unmatched. Buying Tumi is foolish. Their products are junk, and the only people who buy are people (like Ben) who think displaying certain brands makes them better than everyone else.

  2. Brian… why are you here?

    Second, I buy Tumi because of the quality and style. I still have all of my B&R bags, but never use them because they’re ugly.

  3. I would say that Hartmann is at the same level as Tumi, but may not be perceived that way. (The intensity rollers have served me well for 10+ years.). I did have a problem with an intensity duffle, but it was repaired by Hartmann at no charge, even though I couldn’t find the receipt or figure out the year of purchase.

  4. Hey Lucky, the two stories I would most like you to write are:
    1. What you usually pack for your trips (ie a photo of this hand luggage unpacked); and
    2. The world’s best J lounges (in the same way you wrote about the world’s best F lounges).

  5. It all gets beaten up and thrown in the trash. Who cares? Black and functional.Until its not functional, in the trash.

  6. I find Tumi to be too expensive for how heavy they are. When you are limited in weight for carry-on those extra pounds really make a difference.

    @JL Rimowa is the dream.

    @Steve, black is good and all but about 95% of all frequent travelers use black so bags get mixed up so often. I’ve seen people walk away with someone else’s bag way too many times to count.

  7. I try to make it a point not to have black luggage because of the opportunities for someone else to confuse the luggage (read the labels, people!). When forced to travel with black luggage, I make sure that I have a largish luggage tag in a bright color, and add a ribbon (thankfully, I’m female, so I can get away with a bow!)

  8. Love Tumi. I have several of different sizes and they hold up extremely well. Have had great experience with repairs – mostly replacing a zipper on bags that are well over 5 years old and that I no longer had a receipt for. They now make different colors (not just black) and bags can be personalized with color. Since when is Hartmann not a high end brand?

  9. I think expensive and desirable carry-on luggage is fine, but I hesitate to purchase Hartmann or Briggs and Riley as checked bags due to the possible theft factor.

  10. I always favor my hard shell LFT samsonites injection molded and manufactured in the EU – always black. Easy to identify by a personalized tag that I usually place – currently it is an embroidered leather elephant tag.

  11. The back story with Tumi’s retail strategy is rooted in its turnaround story: post 9/11, Tumi went EBITDA negative and was bought by Oaktree Capital’s “Distress for Control” team for roughly $30mm. The team got to work on the operational turnaround and a key pillar of the plan was the retail strategy. The business was then sold to Daughty Hanson two years later at a significant profit, and the retail strategy persisted. Retail obviously worked, otherwise sophisticated active owners such as these would have killed it. Funny to think the brand almost went bust, only to be saved by finance geeks. FWIW I have both Tumi briefcase and BR carry on 🙂

  12. My good ol’ eBags luggage has been extremely durable and well-designed. Especially given how inexpensive it is.

  13. KB why are you here? So you are exactly the type of person who I’m describing- someone who buys Tumi because of how it looks, yet has no idea what good luggage is.

  14. Love Tumi and Rimowa for carry on and I definitely consider them for their design and style. I would never spend that money on any of those brands for checked bag. They will be trashed by airlines personnel so not worth the investment. I have B&R for that since they have lifetime warranty and will fix what airlines destroy for free.

  15. Based on function and design:
    Best hardside luggage = Rimowa
    Best briefcases = Tumi
    Best backpacks = Lexdray

  16. Many of you know nothing about luggage. Most bags sold are made of low-denier polyester and purchased from Kohl’s or Marshall’s. If you fly a lot you’ll want a high-denier NYLON bag with good parts and thick wheel casings. It doesn’t really matter what brand you buy. It’s about the type of material. Samsonite does have a good repair warranty. They’ve been known to cover airline abuse even though they shouldn’t. When baggage handlers destroy a bag you should file a claim w the airline.

  17. I formally worked for Tumi, in the Quality Assurance Department at the Vidalia Ga. location for almost 14 years. I can assure anyone that the guidelines we were given to go by would surely exceed the expectation of any customer Tumi has. Although I do not work there any more. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the product.

  18. I prefer Hartmann over Tumi and agree with Nola that, in the past, the quality was comparable. We own 15-18 pieces that we use regularly and they have performed extremely well. Unfortunately, Hartmann was purchased by Samsonite in 2014 and now the product is absolute junk and the service is horrible! In addition, authorized repair dealers can no longer get replacement parts. So, Tumi fans, be forewarned. This Samsonite purchase signals the death of yet another, quality brand. Samsonite wants the Hartmann and Tumi money but they only want to give us cheap Samsonite quality junk. We’ve stopped buying Hartmann as it is just Samsonite in disguise. The same will come of Tumi, I’m sure.

  19. PS We’ve owned most pieces of our Hartmann Tweed for more than 11 years and we have never had major issues. A few repairs here and there, typically for mishandling, but Hartmann (pre-Samsonite purchase) always delivered exceptional service, timely and usually free, repairs – hence, the price tag was well worth it. We own one of the new Samsonite/Hartmann pieces that we purchased 2 years ago and it has already been replaced once. In 11 years, total replacement was never necessary with our true Hartmann pieces. Again, Tumi fans, just know that the era has ended.

  20. Absolute worst experience with repair process – TUMI Service Center – Consumer Affairs Dept.! So unfortunate. As a result of this, I will not buy any TUMI products in the future nor would I recommend it. Long story short…HORRIBLE.

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