There are about 475 franchisee-operated outlets of Samsonite, American Tourister and House of Samsonite in the country.
The 100-plus stores being shut are owned by its largest franchisee partner Bagzone Lifestyle, promoted by the family of Ramesh Tainwala, former global CEO of Samsonite, the sources said.
“They only plan to retain a handful of flagship stores in some malls and at some airport and the rest will be shut,” said a person with direct knowledge of the development.
Bagzone, which operates around 130 shops of Samsonite brands, declined to comment.
Samsonite India spokesperson did not respond to WhatsApp messages seeking comment.
Bagzone has informed various malls and landlords throughout the country about its closure of the stores, executives of two malls that received the notice told ET. The decision to close the stores would also result in hundreds jobs loses, they said.
Business of luggage companies has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic due to its severe impact on aviation, hospitality and retail sectors across the world due to lockdowns and restrictions.
“Luggage industry is fully dependent of travellers and it is going to be a lean couple of years for the industry,” said the person quoted earlier. “So Samsonite is downsizing considerably.”
Tainwala had resigned as CEO of Samsonite two years ago amid allegations of poor corporate governance and accounting lapses, including oversight breaches at the luggage maker’s Indian arm.
Tainwala, who started as an entrepreneur in plastic processing, has worked with Samsonite in different roles for nearly 25 years, initially as a vendor and joint venture partner, and later as an employee.
Besides Samsonite brands, Bagzone also operates stores selling Lavie branded bags, shoes and accessories.
India has been observing lockdown since March 25 to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. While the government allowed reopening of retail stores in most places, all shopping malls remain closed. In fact, malls in various cities were shut weeks before the national shutdown as part of state governments’ initiatives to check the pandemic, rendering their businesses to almost nil for many weeks now.