Luggage giant Samsonite International S.A. has acquired web-only travel bag retailer eBags Inc. for $105 million in cash.
This is the second major acquisition in a little more than a year for Samsonite, which bought upscale luggage retailer Tumi Inc., No. 393 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, for $1.8 billion in March 2016.
EBags (No. 167), launched in 1999, generated $158.5 million in sales last year, up 23.5% from $128.3 million the previous year, Samsonite said in announcing the deal.
Samsonite cited eBags’ e-commerce success as the driving force behind the acquisition. “With eBags’ immediate resources and digital expertise, we are able to expand our online retail capabilities in a meaningful way, driving stronger sales growth across all the brands in Samsonite’s portfolio,” Samsonite CEO Ramesh Tainwala said. “E-commerce is fast becoming a vital part of our business, and will continue to be central in our strategy moving forward.”
The future of eBags’ executive leadership team and staff is not detailed in the purchase announcement, and Samsonite could not immediately be reached for comment. EBags co-founder Peter Cobb, via email, declined to comment further on the sale of his company, saying only he is “very excited for the possibilities of our two companies.”
The $105 million acquisition price is 66.2% of eBags’ 2016 online sales, suggesting that eBags was not generating much profit. The 0.66 multiple is slightly lower than the average 0.77 multiple of prior-year sales in recent acquisitions.
According to Internet Retailer’s Valuing America’s Top E-Retailers 2017 special report, the average ratio of acquisition price to online sales in which web-only or catalog retailers were acquired has averaged 0.77 on all acquisitions since 2014, when Amazon.com Inc.’s retail dominance became more apparent. By comparison, an Internet Retailer analysis of more than two dozen acquisitions from 2009-13 showed a ratio of acquisition price to online sales of 1.56.
But sometimes companies pay much more for e-retailers. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 4), which acquired online marketplace Jet.com for $3.3 billion last year, paid more than four times online marketplace Jet’s 2016 revenue. Consumer packaged goods giant Unilever in July paid 6.6 times the prior-year sales for subscription razor and shaving products e-retailer Dollar Shave Club (No. 238).
Those deals were good news for internet retailers looking to raise money because they showed that there can be successful exits for investors who put money into online retail businesses, says Randy Nicolau, CEO of Poppin.com, No. 519 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 1000.
Before those deals, most of the recent acquisitions of online retailers had been “fire sales” of struggling e-retailers like Gilt Groupe to Hudson’s Bay Co. (No. 75), or sales to Amazon (No. 1) of successful businesses like Zappos or Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com. But the sales of Jet.com and Dollar Shave Club demonstrate that there are buyers other than Amazon willing to pay hefty multiples for successful e-retail businesses, Nicolau says.
EBags is a finalist for the E-Retail Marketer of the Year award at this year’s Internet Retailer Excellence Awards, which will be held during a dinner banquet on June 7 during the annual Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE 2017).