First Luggage: Gideon Kasfiner
We speak to Gideon Kasfiner, the man who believes in luggage free travel
Luggage-free travel is the future, believes Gideon Kasfiner who launched First Luggage, a company offering such a service, last year. And he could well be right.
More than 20 million bags are lost every year. Sky-high fuel prices and the cost of operating check-in desks and handling luggage (20% of Ryanair’s overheads) are forcing airlines to look at ways to improve margins. And standing around baggage collection or hauling weighty cases is undeniably a chore for anyone flying abroad.
Started with a £300,000 investment, First Luggage picks up bags and suitcases from customers’ homes, flies them to the destination and then delivers them to the doorstep of the hotel or villa to await the owners’ arrival. It achieves all this via a deal with FedEx.
Already the company operates in 80 countries and Kasfiner says that of the 20 more he would like to add, only Australia, Canada and South Africa are considered absolutely core. “The business has the potential to be massive,” says Kasfiner. “The reason is, it doesn’t all originate from the UK. A minute percentage of US and European air traffic will be huge. Then there is the Middle East, Hong Kong and China.” The over-55s are likely to represent at least 40% of the company’s customer base – particularly where connecting flights are involved. Joan Collins (above) and Alan Whicker have already signed up as ambassadors. Skiers and golfers, families, conventions and major sporting events are other targets. A 30kg suitcase transported from London to New York costs £129 and prices tend to drop, depending on the item involved.
Annualised turnover stands at £1.2m. He predicts that in two years the company will turn over in excess of £3m and enthuses that in around five years it should reach around £40m, based on around 160,000 shipments a year. “If it doesn’t the concept hasn’t taken off,” he says. “It’s obvious airlines will charge for luggage. It’s already happening on the periphery with skis and golf bags. Low-cost airlines charge for excess luggage.”
There’s good reason to believe Kasfiner will achieve his aims. He boasts 30 years’ experience in shipping and logistics and has just agreed the company’s first deal with a major airline to offer customers a luggage-free service at a preferential rate. Similar deals and an affiliate programme with travel agents, hotel groups and airlines will boost customer volumes further.
The company has also launched a lower-cost, marginsto- the-bone service, called Flymycase.com to appeal to a wider market, which doesn’t offer the same level of communication and tracking to reassure the customer. So far, turnover is rising by 25% a month, repeat business stands at 15%, £1m of additional investment is being sought to start an advertising campaign, hire sales people and open a US office, and a listing on AIM is slated for mid-2007. He admits though there is still groundwork to be done. “It won’t happen overnight. This is a pioneering industry. Over the next couple of years that situation will ease dramatically.”
Name: Gideon Kasfiner
Company: First Luggage
Activity: Luggage transfer services
Turnover: ?1.2m Staff: 8