christoph
bonte

general manager samsonite
November 2011
Isrid van Geuns - Recruitment - Specializing in fashion and luxury
interview by Isrid

'At Samsonite we want to better serve our female consumer'

Women First
“We moved to this showroom, located at the top floor of the first tower of the WFC, at the beginning of September 2017. Here we carry, with the exception of our brand Tumi, the complete Samsonite group brands portfolio. We specialize in creating products for the travel industry and we do in house designing of the Samsonite collection. The Samsonite group also owns other luggage labels so we can reach a wider audience. The label American Tourister caters to young people, offering hip, colourful luggage. Gregory offers outdoor luggage and Hartman is our luxury brand, introduced to the Benelux in 2015. The travel industry is booming and shows a steady growth in the marketplace. More people like to travel and they travel more frequently. One of our main objectives for 2018, is to better serve our female consumer. We are well on our way by offering practical yet elegant business bags by Samsonite and Lipault. Traditionally luggage catered to the male population, characteristically in design and dark, non defined colour scheme. We need to bridge production and the working women since they are a powerful and growing source to be reckoned with. We are also aware women control about 70% of the household budget. More attention to women will translate into fashionable design, colour, softer materials and more graceful accessories such as zippers.”

Is Samsonite mainly known as a functional brand?
“It is correct to say we set the bar high when it comes to functionality and it is part of our three main themes on which we develop production. We set ourselves apart from the competition by following this course of action. Our second theme is ‘innovation’ in which we try and evolve by using new materials to offer light weight luggage, Curve being a good example of that. The third and final important theme is ‘design’. It is an important theme when it comes to hand luggage and bags since those items you carry close to the body. All our designs are being measured up to these three themes and bring added value to our consumers and the Samsonite Group.”

'We like to create a world in which our consumers experience excitement and a dream like state without disconnecting them from their own world'

Experiencing a happy world
“Luggage is subject to changes in fashion. Our products need to be in line with new developments that are happening in the fashion industry. It is for that reason we, as the Samsonite Group, like to be associated with the WFC. Fashion is so alive in Amsterdam! The WFC is all about fashion and I see it as one happy world. The building is well situated, allowing easy access which is very important. We can appreciate the hustle and bustle of the building and we like our labels to be exposed to that kind of energy. At our WFC location, we present our collections to our wholesaler twice a year. The wholesaler can place their order at that time or on Mondays when our sales executives are present in the showroom. We also train our staff at this location. I would like to say it is the perfect place to turn our concepts into product and experience.”

What type of experience do we get from Samsonite?
“We like to create a world in which our consumers experience excitement and a dream like state without disconnecting them from their own world. This is the reason why we seek out working with life style bloggers. Samsonite wants to be a dominant factor in the travel industry and a priority to our business partners and clients. We try and bring our brand awareness to different points of sale. We take an active roll in this development. First of all, we are a wholesale brand but we do have different points of sale inside department stores like the Bijenkorf and Hudson’s Bay. We are eager to grow our own retail channel. We are located in 250 stores across Europe and B2C is becoming more important. We recently opened up a brand new Samsonite flagship store in Brussels. Reaching a higher level professionally means sharing ideas and experiences to increase brand awareness with our partners. Not to impose but to inspire one another, so everyone can be a winner. We are investing in a single brand environment which allows our customer to experience a natural flow from start to finish. All channels should fit together seamlessly.”
How do you see yourself as a leader?
“I want to show that I feel privileged to work for a beautiful label such as Samsonite, being around for more than a 100 years. My roll as a leader has changed over time. It is all about the brand and the people who work here. The staff is far more important than I am, they deserve to be in the spotlight. I would like to look back and realise: ‘it was a fantastic ride, I have learned and grown as a person.”


Published in the WFC 50 year anniversary book
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