6 Minutes @ Ramesh Tainwala

Samsonite, The world’s largest travel luggage company in Asia, Europe and North America and one of the most trustworthy travel luggage brands known for its quality, durability, functionality and innovation over the years. With over 1,600 new Point of Sales (POS) added in first half 2012 across Asia, North America, Europe, Latin America and bringing total POS to 41,600 globally across 100-plus countries, Ramesh Tainwala the President of Asia Pacific and Middle East Ramesh talks to mylifestylenews about his aspirational future prospects for the brand after making some executive decision with the company for more than a decade......

I started with the company as Chief Operating Officer overseeing Indian operation since June 2000 and became a General Manager for the Middle Eastern operation in January 2007. In 2011, I was appointed as an Executive Director of Samsonite and  now  the company’s President for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. 

In this role as President, my principal responsibility is to manage and develop the company’s business in Asia Pacific including the company’s manufacturing operations in India as well as marketing and sales in the Middle East, West Asia and Australia.

We are the first to introduce the first suitcase on wheels in 1974 and launched The Oyster, the first polypropylene suitcase with a 3-point locking system which soon became the world’s best-selling suitcase since 1986.

In 1997, we introduced the four-wheel Spinner, an upright suitcase that can easily be pulled or pushed in any direction and in 2002, the F’lite introduced Hardlite technology to the world being the first product in the industry to be rigid and strong yet lightweight.

In 2008, another innovation of technology was implemented, The Curv technology. Curv is a registered US trademark of propex Operating Company, LLC and it is an extreme impact resistance even at low temperatures. 

The Cosmolite was introduced as the strongest and lightest material exclusive to Samsonite ever made. Curv is close to bamboo, it is flexible, durable, strong, lightweight and natural. It makes such a thin fibre yet strong in its own protection and resistance. In fact, there are many bullet proof shields were also made using such material.

The name Samsonite is known for its quality, durability, functionality, and innovation ever since. With that philosophy, we always look for something new when sourcing the right material as well as new technology being implemented to create the most suitable travel luggage for business and leisure travelers looking for premium and trustworthy brand. 

The image that we are projecting to the consumers, Samsonite is a lifestyle accessories with stylish products.

The business growth for the brand does link to tourism business. International tourism increase by 3% to 4% for the full year of 2012. With huge demand for travel products in Asia, driven by
positive economic growth with the expanded middle class and disposable incomes which increase in travel-related expenditure.

Asia is Samsonite’s largest region, showing strong growth and profitability excluding foreign currency effect with international tourist arrivals worldwide expected to increase 3.3% on average each year. 

Our new product creation always come from the marketing brief that based on our consumer studies in relation with their feedback on trends and functionality. The designer team will then work on a new prototype and send for various level of test categorization until it meets the brief's requirement before the actual production. The entire process will takes up to 12-15 months.

Our design team stationed in various countries, from Hong Kong to Korea, Japan, India, Belgium and London. They are all work in a common Federal System with independent production with global supply manufacturing.

Innovative products are tailored for each region and in line with evolving the current travel trends.

The brand's design DNA is always the colours, handle, pull handle, lock and wheels. Innovation is always the key for new creation with a new stylish look for each design.

The global innovation always adapt to the local taste and needs. Asian wants a stylish product that they can touch and feel with their hands, they tend to look for a smooth silky and delicate surface where the American love the practicality that fits to their travelling purposes. That's the difference in demand for travel luggage and accessories.

In fact, our closest competitors are actually those luxury brands like Prada and Gucci. Based on our studies, the fragmented competitions juggling the choice of the consumer when they need to make the decision before spending the equal amount of money on travel luggage or other luxury goods.

Other luggage brands may not be our direct competitors as they are either a fashion unit or a casual accessories.

A luggage lifespan usually last for 3 to 4 years, consumer behavior changes due to new innovation designs, trend's factors and also the increase of spending power.

The B-Lite Fresh Collection
The Aerial Collection
The Firelite Collection

The collaboration with Alexander McQueen was another breakthrough for building the brand image to a more trendy lifestyle with a luxury wants and desires. Until today, there are still many followers wanted to buy that collection and unfortunately the production is already discontinued with many other technical reasons. We have only a few left in our office and it serves as our archive pieces. No doubt, It did mark a very exciting mileage for us.

There will be another exciting collaboration coming in 2013, it will be unveiled when the time comes. So do stay tuned.

The 2013 advertising campaign is still <Step Out>, it is the way to come out from your comfort zone to be who you are and increase risk capitalize.

I change my travel luggage and accessories every 15 days. That is part of my job to try out the new products to find out what's next to be included and implemented.

I am experimenting a new carry on cabin size luggage that allows me to travel for 15 days with a possible 38% higher volume packing space and 20% lighter in weight.

That would then be my ideal way of a travel lifestyle without having the luggage check-in.

*Special thanks to Artemis Associates @ the interview arrangement.

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