Samsonite recalls Tokyo Chic luggage after chemical scare

HONG KONG - Samsonite, the world's biggest luggage maker, is to replace the handles on its American Tourister brand's Tokyo Chic inventory, amid claims some products contained high levels of chemicals that may be carcinogenic.

Samsonite, which targets the mid to upper end of the market, said on Tuesday the recall would cost less than US$500,000 (S$632,760) and it will take about a week to replace the handles. Sales of Tokyo Chic account for 0.7 per cent of global sales.

"Despite our absolute conviction that the Tokyo Chic luggage is completely safe, we have today removed Tokyo Chic luggage from our stock everywhere it is sold in order to immediately replace the side-carrying handles with new generation handles," said Ramesh Tainwala, president for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

Samsonite's Hong Kong-listed shares fell 16 per cent on Friday after Hong Kong's consumer products watchdog said it had found parts of certain suitcases contained high levels of chemicals that may be carcinogenic.

The Consumer Council report said excessive levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) had been found in the handles of four samples of the company's suitcases. The amounts exceeded the limits set by a German voluntary labeling scheme on consumer plastic products.

Tainwala, speaking at a news conference, said the recall would not have any material impact on the company.