|Samsonite plans US$1b outlay on regional brand buys
US luggage maker Samsonite (1910) said Wednesday it may acquire up to US$1 billion in Chinese and Asian brands in the next two to three years to diversify its product range.
The announcement came after Samsonite said in a statement that it saw a 17-percent year-on-year net profit increase in the first half brought on by a successful "diversification in terms of brands, products and markets'', AFP reports.
The Hong Kong-listed company expects China to become its biggest market in as little as three years, overtaking the US, company chairman Tim Parker told Dow Jones Newswires.
"In the past we've looked at brands that we could sort of internationalize. Now I think the time for us... is to look at local brands too,'' Parker said, referring to China.
"The Chinese market now has a number of brands that are quite well established,'' Parker said, adding that competition in the high-end luggage sector remains intense.
"There is an enormous swathe of our market...(with) some actually rather good brands that have established themselves locally,'' he said.
Samsonite saw net sales increase to a record $983.6 million -- 37.6 percent of its global sales for the first six months of the year came from Asia. It said that 9.5 percent of the sales were in China.
In June last year the firm pulled its Tokyo Chic luggage from stores worldwide after a Hong Kong consumer group found parts contained high levels of chemicals that may cause cancer.
Samsonite raised more than $225 million in an initial public offering in Hong Kong in June 2011.
By listing in Hong Kong, the luggage maker joined a slew of Western brands seeking to use the southern Chinese city to boost their presence in fast-growing Asian markets.