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Samsonite shopping for a handbag

Aiming to add a handbag brand, luggage giant Samsonite International is open to a deal that could rival its US$1.8 billion purchase of Tumi.

Chairman Timothy Parker says handbags would help Samsonite fill a gap as the company focuses on boosting sales of office gear and non-travel products to women.

Products designed for women account for less than 5 per cent of the company’s sales and it aims to eventually boost that ratio to a quarter.

“Strategically, we are quite interested in handbags. We want to find a brand that fits with the rest of our portfolio of products,” says Parker, who has been chairman since 2008. “The one product we don’t have a big presence in is handbags.”

With record net sales last year, Samsonite is listed in Hong Kong and is based in Mansfield, Massachusetts. It is seeking to expand sales outside North America and increase its range of products.
Parker says Samsonite is not actively approaching potential buyers, and will likely spend the next year or two consolidating after its acquisition of Tumi Holdings followed by the $105 million purchase of online retailer eBags Inc last year.

“Most handbag brands are owned by luxury brands and few are open to selling,” says Parker. “We are not afraid of paying a good price for a good business. We certainly have the firepower to do it. A good fit is key.”

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