Leading Global Travel Industry (Inside look at Samsonite)


Bet you didn’t know in 1961, Samsonite manufactured and distributed Lego building toys for the North American market under license from the Danish parent firm. A licensing 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 influential 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.


Samsonite is a not just a brand but rather an industry, a global phenomenon as people from all parts of the world use the word “Samsonite” instead of the world suitcase or luggage these days. This brand has molded and single handedly created an industry as Ford did with automobiles. Samsonite International S.A. is the world's largest travel luggage company, with a heritage dating back more than 100 years.

samsonite history

Samsonite was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1910 by Jesse Shwayder, a luggage salesman, as the ShwayderTrunk Manufacturing Company. A very religious man, Shwayder named one of his initial cases Samson, after the Biblecharacter, and began using the trademark Samsonite in 1941. The company transformed its name to Samsonite in 1966. For many years, Samsonite Furniture Co., made folding chairs and card tables in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. During the better part of the last 100 years, they have not only commercialized but also revolutionized the luggage industry with innovating industry styles and fashion to help us, to help the world travel happier.


Samsonite started with the core value of mainly engaging in the design, manufacture, sourcing and distribution of new styles of luggage, business and bags, outdoor and street bags, and travel accessories. In the 70’s the Shwayder family sold the company to Beatrice Foods and that’s when Samsonite began to enter a roller coaster of world.


The core brand, Samsonite, is one of the most well-known travel luggage brands in the world and has been central brand to the growth and success of their business since it was first introduced in 1941. But they have created many other from throughout the years such as the luxurious Hartmann but in 1993, they acquired American Tourister, Inc., based in Providence, Rhode Island. This enabled them to market products under two of the most well-known and respected brands in the luggage market in the world.


The long standing home base of the Denver factory, which employed 4,000 at its peak, closed in May 2001. Samsonite headquarters moved from Denver to Mansfield, Massachusetts after a change of ownership in 2005. CVC Capital Partners Ltd. in July 2007 became Samsonite's fifth owner in 21 years. The brand was going through so many struggles after the original sale back in the 70’s until the past decade.


In 2012, Samsonite acquired the High Sierra and Hartmann brands, both based in the U.S. Founded in 1978, High Sierra's products are targeted at lively lifestyle consumers and the procurement enabled them to expand into the casual outdoor and sport segments of the worldwide luggage market. The Hartmann brand, founded by Joseph S. Hartmann in 1877, is recognized as a mark of excellence among American luxury consumers and the acquisition enables Samsonite to expand its presence in the high-end luggage and leather goods market in the U.S. and globally.


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 after the finance investor CVC took full control of the company by sinking over 1 billion dollars into the company.  It was tough seeing Marcello Bottoli

 Exit the company because he was the person who had a vision and took Samsonite to another level, he was and will always be a visionary in the luggage industry.


In 2014, they broaden their brand portfolio with the Lipault and Speck acquisitions. Created in 2004, Lipault is a chic and youthful French brand known for its efficient and fashionable products. It allows us to engage with female consumers through Lipault's signature Parisian style and vibrant colors. Speck, founded in Silicon Valley for computer nerds, in 2001, designs and distributes thindefensive cases for personal electronic devices. This acquirement enabled Samsonite to enter the fast growing market for smart phone and tablet cases.


Whatever the future holds, we know Samsonite will continue to innovate how you and I travel the world.


A Samsonite Lover.