Samsonite Sees Trade War Hitting China Sales of Its Luggage

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s top luggage maker, Samsonite International SA, says the trade war between the U.S. and China is damping sentiment among Chinese consumers and will play into slower sales growth in its second-biggest market, in another sign of the fallout from the tit-for-tat tariffs.

“All the noise of trade wars creates a little bit of sentiment on Chinese consumers,” Kyle Francis Gendreau, the company’s new chief executive officer, said in an interview Thursday. “We saw a little bit of uncertainty in China leading into the second half of the year.”

The luggage giant expects to see overall tariffs on its luggage and travel products rise an additional 10 percent -- effectively increasing levies on its products to 30 percent -- if the U.S. enacts the next round of tariffs on up to $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, said Gendreau. Its products have been subjected to an overall 20 percent tariff for a while now, he said.

Short-Seller Attack

Samsonite, based in Mansfield, Massachusetts and listed in Hong Kong, has faced a difficult year. Criticism of the company’s management by a short seller led to the resignation of Ramesh Tainwala as CEO, while luggage and handbags have become a target in the trade war between China and the U.S. Its shares have tumbled 14 percent this year.

Still, the company said its business “did not miss a beat” after short seller Blue Orca Capital LLC attacked the company’s corporate governance, accounting linked to its takeovers and Tainwala’s credentials. Samsonite responded with a point-by-point rebuttal in June, and shares have rebounded after an initial plunge.

Samsonite Sees Trade War Hitting China Sales of Its Luggage

Samsonite shares jumped as much as 8.5 percent in early trading in Hong Kong on Thursday. That’s the biggest one-day increase since Tainwala stepped down on June 1, though the stock has yet to fully recover from Blue Orca’s attack on the company.

The company posted net income of $67.8 million for the first half Wednesday, with strong net sales growth in all of its key brands.