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NEW YORK — Tumi has found a new traveling partner.

London-based independent private equity firm Doughty Hanson & Co. agreed to purchase the accessories company, best known for its black ripstop nylon and napa leather luggage, from majority owner Oaktree Capital Management LLC and other shareholders. Oaktree bought a majority stake in the company in 2002.

The acquisition, still subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed next month. Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. consulted Tumi on the transaction.

“We don’t see any fundamental changes in our strategic direction,” Laurence Franklin, Tumi’s chief executive officer, said Tuesday. “The investment was predicated on management continuing and maintaining the operating and strategic platform that we have put into place these past couple of years.”

Tumi, which expects to generate $300 million in retail sales this year, recently jazzed up its assortment to target more women with fashionable business cases, drawstring totes, whimsical coin purses and makeup kits. It also is looking to develop watches, writing utensils and umbrellas.

Doughty Hanson’s prior investments include rug and carpet maker Balta, battery business Saft, and car parts provider ATU.

The private equity firm is expected to collaborate with Tumi’s management to steer the company’s growth, including its retail network, which currently has 25 stores, and its presence in both Europe and Asia. Besides the U.S., Tumi has flagships in Paris and Tokyo and wholesales its merchandise to department and specialty stores worldwide, including Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Lane Crawford. Tumi is scheduled to open a store in Munich this fall.

“Right now we are being sold in almost 40 countries,” Franklin noted. “We see continued strong growth in Asia in all key markets including Japan. We also expect to enter mainland China beyond Beijing.”

— Marc Karimzadeh

This story first appeared in the October 6, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.