Samsonite to Buy High Sierra Assets for $110 Million

Samsonite International SA, the branded luggage maker, agreed to buy High Sierra Sport Co. for $110 million to add casual, outdoor and sports bags. The company also said it will consider more acquisitions this year.

The cash deal for Gurnee, Illinois-based High Sierra is expected to close this month, Samsonite said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange today. The acquisition is Samsonite’s first since its initial public offering a year ago.

The luggage maker intends to make one or two more purchases this year, Tim Parker, chief executive officer of Mansfield, Massachusetts-based Samsonite said in an interview today. Sales will probably rise about 20 percent in Asia and between 10 percent and 15 percent in the U.S. this year, he said.

“There are still some segments of the luggage market where our brands are not represented, and obviously, I’m looking for something very complementary,” Parker said, referring to the possibility of more deals. “You don’t have to wait too long on this.”

Closely held High Sierra had 2011 net sales of $64.1 million, an increase of 31 percent from a year earlier, with about 90 percent of revenue coming from the U.S., according to the Samsonite statement.

Global Branding

Samsonite intends to boost High Sierra’s brand in Asia, Europe and Latin America, while the acquisition gives it access to U.S. distribution among sporting goods retailers, according to the statement. High Sierra is the official supplier of bags and luggage for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team, according to the statement.

The deal will help the sports bag maker “reach millions of new customers,” Hank Bernbaum, High Sierra chief executive officer, said in the statement.

Samsonite resumed selling its Tokyo Chic line one or two weeks after withdrawing the brand last month, Ramesh Tainwala, president for Asia Pacific and Middle East, told reporters today in Hong Kong.

The company pulled the line after a Hong Kong consumer council report said handles on the luggage contained materials that could cause cancer. At that time the luggage company said it had “absolute conviction” the Tokyo Chic line was safe to use and the recall was aimed at ensuring consumer confidence.

Samsonite fell 1.6 percent to HK$12.08 at the midday break in Hong Kong. That is 17 percent lower than its IPO price of HK$14.50 a share in June last year, when the company raised about HK$9.73 billion ($1.25 billion).

The company gets about 37 percent of its revenue in Asia, more than any other region, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. China sales are likely to grow more than 20 percent this year, Tainwala said.

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