Samsonite finds big too small for UAE travellers

Samsonite's large cases are usually considered generous enough - but not in the UAE, where the company is forced to phase them out in favour of an 'outsize' version.

Ramesh Tainwala, the president for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East at Samsonite, says their 82cm suitcases are a hit in the region. Razan Alzayani / The National
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In a country renowned for building the best and the biggest it should perhaps come as no surprise residents also like their luggage large and luxurious.

But it turns out people in the UAE like their suitcases to be so big Samsonite has decided to phase out cases considered to be large everywhere else in favour of "outsize" luggage.

Samsonite's standard large size, 64cm to 74cm suitcases, which people typically take on a two-week holiday, sit in the brand's Middle East stores and do not move. But 82cm ones, which sell only in the Middle East and Russia, virtually fly off the shelves.

"It's really large sized. You can even put your mother-in-law in it," said Ramesh Tainwala, the president of the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region for Samsonite.

The brand is now also considering whether to make the logo on luggage sold here larger or more visible after a request from stores in the region.

"Generally, our logos are tone on tone," says Mr Tainwala.

"There's a black background and black logo, so it is very subtle … whereas here people would like it to make it contrast, like a black background and maybe white letters or gold letters so you can clearly see you are carrying Samsonite."

The world's largest luggage company sells more of its higher-end products here proportionally and is hoping the region's love of luxury means it will more easily embrace its latest brand, Hartmann.

The luxury luggage company only operates stores in the United States at the moment but Samsonite aims to use its extensive network to open shops in the Middle East next year.

Hartmann is a favourite of American socialites, celebrities and presidents - every US leader from Roosevelt up to George W Bush, with the exception of Bill Clinton, who used Samsonite, and Barack Obama, who does not favour any particular brand, used the luggage.

"There is a database [of customers] that was maintained by Hartmann, so I'm sure there will be many more [famous] people who build on the heritage and story," said Mr Tainwala.