Samsonite International S.A. (SEHK: ) is an American luggage manufacturer and retailer, with products ranging from large suitcases to small toiletries bags and briefcases. It was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1910 by Jesse Shwayder. Shwayder named one of his initial cases Samson, after the Biblical strongman, and began using the trademark Samsonite in 1941. The company changed its name to Samsonite in 1966.

The company's registered office is in Luxembourg and it is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

History

The company was founded in Denver, Colorado, USA in 1910 by Jesse Shwayder, a luggage salesman, as the Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company. A religious man, Shwayder named one of his initial cases Samson, after the Biblical strongman, and began using the trademark Samsonite in 1941. The company changed its name to Samsonite in 1966. For a large number of years, a subsidiary, Samsonite Furniture Co., made folding chairs and card tables in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The Shwayder family sold the company to Beatrice Foods in 1973.

The Denver factory, which employed 4,000 at its peak, closed in May 2001. Samsonite headquarters moved from Denver to Mansfield, Massachusetts, USA after a change of ownership in May 2005. CVC Capital Partners Ltd. in July 2007 became Samsonite's fifth owner in 21 years.

Samsonite moved its US marketing and sales offices from 91 Main Street in Warren, Rhode Island, to Mansfield, Massachusetts effective September 1, 2005.

In 2005 the company was bought by Marcello Bottoli, former chief executive of Louis Vuitton as president and CEO, to pull them out of a long slump. Bottoli left the company in 2009.

In July 2007, finance investor CVC Capital Partners took over Samsonite for $1.7 billion.

On September 2, 2009, Samsonite Company Store LLC (U.S. Retail Division), formally known as Swainsonite Company Stores Inc, filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. It planned to close up to fifty percent of its stores and discontinue the "Black Label" brand in the United States.

In June 2011, Samsonsite raised US$1.25 billion in an initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Products

Beginning in 1961, Samsonite manufactured and distributed Lego building toys for the North American market under license from the Danish parent firm. A licencing dispute ended the arrangement in the U.S. in 1972, but Samsonite remained the distributor in Canada until 1986. Albert H. Reckler, then head of Military and export sales for the luggage division, brought the idea of manufacturing and selling Lego in the U.S. to Samsonite. He and Stan A. Clamage were instrumental in establishing the Lego brand in the United States. This was part of an overall company expansion into toy manufacturing in the 1960s that was abandoned in the 1970s.

Production

Forty percent of all Samsonite hard luggage is manufactured at its plant in Nashik, India.

Brands