Tumi is refocusing its efforts on its core travel and business-professional consumers, and also has strategies for growth, but these no longer include pushing into the luxury fashion realm.

This story first appeared in the May 21, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Alan Krantzler, who recently was promoted to senior vice president of brand management, overseeing product management, merchandising and global marketing, said: “The broadest goal is to be true to our DNA and reinforce the five elements that we believe define Tumi — functional superiority, technical innovation, design excellence, best-in-class quality and outstanding service. We’re not really pushing into luxury; we want to be best in class.”

That’s a change of tune from three years ago, when Tumi, which is best known for ballistic-nylon luggage, set out to become a more fashionable player in the luxury market, launching handbag collections and a slick ad campaign featuring Shalom Harlow. Former creative director David Chu envisioned Tumi as a travel-lifestyle brand evoking the glamorous golden ages of air and steam travel.

“Well, 2009 came along and it taught people that they need to focus on core business. People have so many options when it comes to fashion, and they have a whole different mind-set when they make a fashion purchase. Our strength is outstanding value when it comes to travel and business,” said Krantzler. “David did a lot of great things for the brand, which remain in place. This notion of being best in class is really an evolution of that.”

Tumi, founded in 1975 and based in South Plainfield, N.J., is sold in more than 140 Tumi stores worldwide, as well as department and specialty stores in more than 40 countries.

First among Tumi’s growth strategies is a focus on attracting younger consumers.

“The core customer is a 45- to 50-year-old business professional, celebrity, executive or athlete — people who do a lot of traveling and have demanding needs when they travel. Our mission is to continually make the brand appealing and relevant to the next generation of those consumers. I want to make sure we get the son or daughter of the customer we already have, and make sure they see the brand as something for their generation,” said Krantzler.

“Secondly, we’re looking to build the business with females. They are 35 to 40 percent of our base, and we’re looking to increase that. They come to us largely for luggage and travel, they work in any number of professions, and we see a huge opportunity to service their daily needs,” said Krantzler.

To that end, Tumi has appointed Sarah Hearey Blaustein as director of women’s design, a newly created role. She previously designed a collection of handbags and jewelry under her own label, Sarah Hearey. Her first collection for Tumi will be an assortment of feminine women’s business cases for fall 2011.

Third, said Krantzler, Tumi aims to sell more accessories.

“Small leather goods, personal accessories, furnishings, belts and travel accessories — anything that completes the customer. We’re developing eyewear. We’re looking to expand the brand’s footprint and add accessory categories,” he said.

Finally, Tumi aims to develop the diffusion line, T-Tech.

“It’s for a more design-forward and younger consumer. Outerwear will probably grow threefold this year. It’s done exceptionally well,” said Krantzler.

Prior to joining Tumi in May 2003, Krantzler was senior vice president of marketing at Perry Ellis International, and held two positions at Coach in product management and merchandising.

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