Luggage firm Samsonite International SA has named Kyle Gendreau its new chief executive officer.
Gendreau, who has been a director of the company since March 2011 and chief financial officer since January 2009, succeeds Ramesh Tainwala, who has resigned his ceo position.
Timothy Parker, chairman, said: “Having served as a senior executive of Samsonite for many years, Kyle possesses a strong understanding of our industry, significant financial management experience across retail and consumer products, as well as deep institutional knowledge of Samsonite….The board is confident that under Kyle’s leadership, the company remains well-positioned to continue executing on its multibrand, multicategory and multichannel global strategy to capitalize on the growth opportunities ahead and to enhance long-term value for shareholders.”
The chairman also thanked Tainwala for his “many contributions” to the success of Samsonite over the years.
There was an issue that came up over Tainwala’s academic credentials last week from an opinion report issued by Blue Orca Capital, a Texas-based investment fund that operates as an activist investor having a specialty in short-selling.
In the statement regarding the appointment of Tainwala, Parker said: “While the board notes that since the company’s IPO in 2011, its disclosure of Ramesh’s educational background has been accurate, the board also takes seriously the allegation that has been made about his academic credentials.” The chairman went on to note that Tainwala tendered his resignation due to personal reasons.
Parker added, “In considering such resignation, the board thoroughly reviewed the facts related to this allegation and has determined that accepting Ramesh’s resignation is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.”
The Blue Orca report caused the company to halt the trading of the company’s shares last Thursday on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Samsonite subsequently said it would resume trading on May 25. In addition to questioning Tainwala’s academic credentials, it raised the issue of whether Samsonite really qualified as a premium luxury brand in addition to other questions regarding the company’s accounting practices.
Samsonite addressed the report in a separate statement, noting that the company’s board has “thoroughly reviewed the allegations contained in the short-seller report and has determined that [the allegations] about the company are one-sided and misleading and the conclusions drawn in the [report] about the company and its financial results are incorrect.” The company also said its “financial disclosures are an accurate reflection of the strong core fundamentals of the business.”
Samsonite further emphasized it is the leading player in the large and rapidly growing global luggage, backpack and business bags market, which it said is forecasted to grow at a compound annual rate of “6.6 percent from 2017 to 2022.” The company added that its diversified revenue base coupled with a differentiated business model is not overly reliant on any brand, market, channel of distribution or product category.
The statement further said the Samsonite board “stands behind its track record of transparency and corporate governance.” It also said it provided a detailed response to the allegations in the report to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, a copy of which investors can access at the investor relations section of the company web site.