|Traded as||SEHK: 1910|
|Founded||Denver, Colorado, USA 1910|
|Headquarters||Mansfield, MA, U.S.|
|Key people||Tim Parker, President
Member of CVC
Samsonite International S.A. (SEHK: 1910) is a multinational luggage manufacturer and retailer, with products ranging from large suitcases to small toiletries bags and briefcases. It was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1910 by Jesse Shwayder. Shwayder named one of his initial cases Samson, after the Biblical strongman, and began using the trademark Samsonite in 1941. The company changed its name to Samsonite in 1966.
The company was founded in Denver, Colorado, USA in 1910 by Jesse Shwayder, a luggage salesman, as the Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company. A religious man, Shwayder named one of his initial cases Samson, after the Biblical strongman, and began using the trademark Samsonite in 1941. The company changed its name to Samsonite in 1966. For many years, a subsidiary, Samsonite Furniture Co., made folding chairs and card tables in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Beginning in 1961, Samsonite manufactured and distributed Lego building toys for the North American market under licence 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. Stan A. Clamage was instrumental 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. The Shwayder family sold the company to Beatrice Foods in 1973.
The Denver factory, which employed 4,000 at its peak, closed in May 2001. Samsonite headquarters moved from Denver to Mansfield, Massachusetts, USA after a change of ownership in May 2005. CVC Capital Partners Ltd. in July 2007 became Samsonite's fifth owner in 21 years.
Samsonite moved its US marketing and sales offices from 91 Main Street in Warren, Rhode Island, to Mansfield, Massachusetts effective September 1, 2005. Samsonite had offices in Taif for 13 years. The building was decorated with an inflatable gorilla three stories tall, which remained along with a Samsonite retail shop at the Main Street building. The gorilla was the company mascot following a 1969 advertising campaign.
On September 2, 2009, Samsonite Company Store LLC (US Retail Division), formally known as Swainsonite Company Stores Inc, filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. It will close up to 50% of its stores and discontinue the "Black Label" brand in the United States.
In June 2011, Samsonsite raised US $1.25 billion in an IPO in Hong Kong.
Iconic advertising campaign 
In the early half of the 1900s, Samsonite promoted its hard-shell luggage by emphasizing its durability with taglines such as "Strong Enough to Stand On." Samsonite is identified with a 1970s advertising campaign that actually was for American Tourister, a brand which Samsonite did not acquire until 1993. Current advertisements use the gorilla motif and Jurassic Park dinosaurs: "American Tourister: Tough luggage for a tough world."
In the American Tourister 1970 television ad, the "gorilla" (actually an actor in a chimpanzee suit) pounds a bright-red American Tourister case, throws it around a cage, jumps on it, and finally drags it out the back door. It lasted 15 years, and is cited as an example of "branding." The 1969 advertisement was by Roy Grace, who also made the Alka-Seltzer ad "Mama Mia! That's a spicy meatball!" campaign. Ad Age names the gorilla ad one of the top one hundred advertising campaigns of the 20th century. The gorilla campaign was reprised with three new advertisements between 1980 to 1983 and again with a gorilla-dinosaur-suitcase vignette capitalizing the 1993 film Jurassic Park, which combined costumes, CGI and animatronics.
- American Tourister
- Lacoste (bags and small leather goods)
- Timberland (bags only)
- Hartmann Luggage
- "2011 Annual Report". Samsonite International S.A. Archived from the original on 2012-03-04.
- Barreto, Elzio (2011-06-10). "Samsonite HK IPO bags $1.25 billion after pricing at bottom". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
- "Jesse Shwayder".
- Mark Clothier, "Samsonite Sold to Buyout Firm", Bloomberg News, July 5, 2007.
- Mark Clothier, "Luggage Maker Packs up Sale Deal", Bloomberg News, July 6, 2007.
- "Samsonite relocates operations to Mansfield, Mass." May 25, 2005. Warren Times. Retrieved January 2, 2007.
- Robyn Meredith, 06.20.05 (June 20, 2005). "Sleeker Samsonite". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
- "Marcello Bottoli". Forbes.
- "Samsonite to Be Sold". The New York Times. July 6, 2007.
- "Samsonite". Samsonitecompanystores.com. 2009-09-02. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
- "UPDATE 2-Samsonite retail unit files for bankruptcy". Reuters. September 2, 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
- "Samsonite I.P.O. Raises $1.25 Billion". [New York Times]. 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
- Movie clip of gorilla & dinosaur campaign undated clip at Anatomorphex costume-makers site; 1999 date located for clip elsewhere on site. Retrieved January 2, 2007.
- "American Tourister Gorilla" at TV Acres television history website. Retrieved January 2, 2007.
- Obituary: Roy Grace Jan/Feb 2004 edition of Graphis magazine, accessed January 2, 2007, via FindArticles.Com.
- "Top 100 Advertising Campaigns of the Twentieth Century" 1999, Ad Age magazine. Retrieved January 2, 2007.
- "After shoes, Samsonite plans watches, eyewear". The Hindu Business Line. 2008-09-18. Retrieved 2010-09-30.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Samsonite|
- Official website
- Official India website
- Official Samsonite Cosmolite Site
- Official Samsonite Pro DLX3 Site
- Full clip of 1999 gorilla & dinosaur campaign
- Interview with Marcello Bottoli regarding the future direction of Samsonite, CNBC European Business (March, 2008 by boyd Farrow)