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“We are looking to open five new stores by next financial year”: Nikhil Ranjan

In an exclusive conversation, Nikhil Ranjan, MD of William Penn sheds light on the growth strategy of the brand.

Tags: William Penn, luxury, writing, Flipkart, Amazon

BY Shipra Srivastava  |  January 22, 2018  |  comments ( 0 )  | 

Nikhil Ranjan

How has been the journey of William Penn so far in Indian market?

We have just completed 16 years in India and we are growing steadily. Though, last year we were affected by GST and demonetization, but now we are seeing a positive atmosphere so the growth is continuous for us. In fact,recently, we have added a whole range of new merchandise apart from just writing instruments. We have realized over the 60% people coming to our store are actually looking to buy pen as a gift rather than for personal usage. We have added a whole range of men’s accessories apart from pens. This move has given us a positive momentum.

So your sales were down due to these two factors?

Though sales were not down, but it was not up to the mark for sure. However, there has been a double digit growth after the month of June last year.

Kindly shed light on your current footprint. How many new stores the brand is looking to open by next financial year?

Currently, we have 29 stores and we are looking to add five new stores by the next financial year.

What new markets the brand is looking to explore via new stores or the focus is to further penetrate existing markets?

We will continue to explore tier I cities, however, we have already started expanding in tier 2 cities. We have just opened a store in Ahmadabad and very shortly we are going to open in Mysore. Overall, we are looking to grow in top cities.

Are you looking for franchise expansion?

No, we are not looking for franchise expansion for now.

What kind of response the brand is generating via its web store? Also, how you are looking to expand the brand presence through online channel?

Not only our exclusive web store, we are also there at marketplaces such as Flipkart and Amazon. Going forward, online is very important channel for us, we are committed to invest and expand this channel. However, in terms of traction both are important channel for us.

Primarily, the brand retails high price points. Do you think online is a viable place for high price ticket retailing because ‘touch and feel’ is an important part when it comes to luxury retailing?  

We are not that highly priced. In fact, our average bill value is Rs5000 and our average product value is about Rs 2500 so we are relevant to both the channels.

What is your highest price point?

Our highest price point is between Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000. Though, we also have limited edition which is priced over few lakhs.

What is your tentative customer base?

We enjoy a rich customer base of about 2.5 lakh customers. Also, we sell couple of limited editions every month. However, quoting the exact number will be difficult since the figure varies month to month.

How the brand is looking to expand its product portfolio?

The luxury pen business is a small category and considered as niche so it is not large as some of other categories that we see in fashion and lifestyle space. William Penn is player, having said that I would also like to mention that we have expanded our portfolio from just writing instruments to accessory segment including stationary. Also, we are looking to introduce personal accessories, travelling accessories very shortly.

Do you see any competition or enjoying the monopoly being a niche player?

Certainly, we have monopoly when it comes to writing instruments. However, as mentioned we have expanded our product range from just writing instruments to accessories segment. We certainly have healthy competition in accessories. But, I would also like to mention there is no player who is doing exactly what we are doing.

Union Budget 2018 is round the corner. What are the expectations from the upcoming budget?

I hope the upcoming budget will be pro business and pro people after the difficult reforms such as, demonetization and GST. I think the government will announce many initiatives to boost the businesses. We are hoping for tax reduction which will help the business overall.

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