Samsonite Chief Executive Officer Ramesh Tainwala is enthusiastic about the Tumi brand's future. Photo: Asia Times Online/Benny Kung

Chinese travelers and the affluent consumer are key to expanding the customer base for Tumi Holdings following the successful integration of the luggage brand, Samsonite International Chief Executive Officer Ramesh Tainwala said.

“We are extremely pleased with the performance in the last four months,” Tainwala told Asia Times Online in a recent interview and the integration is ahead of schedule after Samsonite completed its US$1.8 billion acquisition August last year.

The next step for Tumi is to expand its customer base. “Tumi traditionally has never ever invested a dime in offline advertising,” said Tainwala.

The luxury luggage brand is mostly well-known among professionals in the banking and consulting industry till now, Tainwala said,“the retail stores are also in financial districts.” He believes there is big potential for the brand to tap into the market of affluent individuals and professionals, such as medical professionals.

Tainwala also wants Tumi to target the Chinese consumer. In airports of American gateway cities, like San Francisco, around 20% of sales for Samsonite goes to Chinese travelers, while for Tumi it is less than 1%.

Tumi has never promoted its brand offline. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tumi will take advantage of existing distribution channels that Samsonite has established in China and work on the branding, so Chinese travelers will be aware of what they can buy next time.

Tainwala is surprised that a Tumi collection appealing to female executives through functionality now accounted for 18% of revenue after its launch three years ago, and he is focused on growing this segment. Much of the purchases are made as female customers look for a bag for their partner or children.

Tainwala believes that the design of the Tumi collection, known as Voyageur, is unique and allows women, who he says should have the choice of their own range of executive luggage – and therefore shown the same respect – as men currently have.

“I cannot wait for women to accidentally discover Tumi,” Tainwala said. “I need to reach out to them.”