Samsonite Corp. will close its plastics operations in Denver and move the work to plants in Mexico and India.
The firm will shut its hard-side luggage production operation in Denver because demand for the items has fallen dramatically in the past decade. Soft-side luggage, typically made of nylon fabric, and hybrid soft- and hard-side luggage, now dominate the market, partly because they are easier to carry on airplanes.
Samsonite injection molds, pressure forms and vacuum forms luggage components and assembles them in Denver. Its chief plastic materials are ABS and polypropylene, but it recently added thermoplastic polyolefin to its processing list, said Tom Sandler, president of Samsonite's America's business. Production will cease April 30, Sandler said in a telephone interview.
PP-based luggage will move to India. Other plastic types will shift to Mexico City or Nogales, Mexico. Samsonite will relocate some of Denver's machinery and sell the rest, according to Sandler.
Samsonite announced Feb. 22 that about 340 employees will lose their jobs after production in Denver ceases. The company will retain Denver as a major distribution point and head office. The Denver plant shutdown, and closure of Samsonite's fabric sewing operation in Tucson, Ariz., will lead to a charge of about $8.4 million for Samsonite's fourth quarter, which ended Jan. 31, and another $7.8 million for fiscal 2002.
Samsonite operates 12 plants around the world. It claims to be the largest hard-side luggage producer in the world and one of the largest producers of all types of luggage. The company has recorded losses in its last 11 quarters.