Writing is here to stay:William Penn
Writing is here to stay:William Penn

Mumbai: In the spree of riding high on retail expansion with associating with global and Indian brands, Banglore based William Penn, multi brand retailer offering writing instruments, premium stationary and accessories, is planning to launch three more stores this year to take the tally of stores to 34. The company is largely focusing on major metros along with eyeing to tap the potential of tier I and II markets.Furthermore it is planning to strengthen its online footprints to reach out to the consumers residing beyond tier III and IV towns. Thus, talking about the brands exclusive association with German fine writing instrument maker Faber-Castell, future retail plan, investment, evolving consumer behavior and growing trend of using pen and paper Nikhil Ranjan, Founder & MD, William Penn spoke to Indianretailer.com on the sideline of announcing its association with Faber-Castell in Mumbai. 

What inspired you to associate with Faber-Castell?

William Penn has the tradition of bringing best of the brands from across the world to India and Faber-Castell is operating since 260 years. Based in Germany Faber-Castell has a rich history and legacy. It has been producing fine writing instruments since many years now. It’s a German engineering with Bow House design and not very ornate with unnecessary embellishments. We are the exclusive partner of Faber-Castell.

So far how many brands you have partnered with?

We offer writing instruments, premium stationary and accessories.We are a destination store for all the brands. Overall we have 20 brands of writing instruments and accessories.It includes German, Swiss, Indian and our own in-house brand called Pennline. These are luxury to mass brands but finally this is the customer who decides what he wants.

What is your current retail presence and future plan?

We have 31 stores across 9 cities and we continue to expand with launching two to five stores a year. We have 9 stores in Mumbai and rests 22 are spread across major eight metros in India.Largely we are placed at premium locations with standard store size.By the end of this year we are adding another three stores. As of now we are focusing on metros and also we see there is good potential in tier I and II cities.

Are you planning to explore franchising for future expansion?

All our stores are company owned and we may get into franchising in the future. We are growing double digit and will continue to grow double digit.

What is your investment for per store?

The per square feet investment capex for the premium location goes up to Rs 6500. The average investment per square feet ranges from Rs 4500 to Rs 8000 depends upon the location.

What are your plans for online expansion?

Online is an important channel for us to reach out to the customers beyond III and IV cities. Our e-commerce portal is also gaining good traction. We don’t have that possibility of consumer can buy online and pick-up from our offline stores but it is going to happen in the next 12-15 months.Omni-channel integration is part of our journey.

Please tell us about your plan of future associations?

Largely the focus will be on men’s accessories and writing instruments. In the last one and half years we have added accessories in our offerings.

According to you how the consumer behavior and preference have changed over the years?

Indian customers today wants the best in the world, because they are aware of what is happening around the world having knowledge is available to the consumers at the click of a button. They know more than we know and that is the big challenge we have. Thus, our aim is to offer best products.

Today’scustomer has the comfort of sitting at home and buying online so we have to offer something more with differentiated in-store experience.

Does current digital generation embrace the art of writing on paper?

Communication in the written form is dead as now people are not writing letters.But today people are writing less such as their to-do list, taking minutes of the meeting, ideating and journaling. There is a trend of young people using pen and paper across the world, which was something missing few years ago as everybody was talking about mobile phones.Among young people,today there is a sense of disgust with mobile phone. This new generation, which has never used pen and paper extensively, now getting back to pen and paper first time and that’s the trend coming back.

Writing is here to stay.


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