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William Penn: Quest for fine pens

Last updated on: February 3, 2010 13:09 IST

William Penn: Quest for fine pens

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Byravee Iyer in Mumbai

After exclusive tie-ups with top global brands like Fisher Space, Pelikan and Sheaffer, William Penn, the multi-brand retail chain of writing instruments, has now got into a partnership with Caran d'Ache of Switzerland.

Founded in 1924 by Arnold Schweitzer, Caran d'Ache is a product of Switzerland's long history of watch-making and jewellery manufacture.

"It is Swiss craftsmanship akin to its watches," says Nikhil Ranjan, the president of William Penn.

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The 100 per cent Swiss-made writing instruments are all handcrafted and are priced between Rs 5,000 and Rs 200,000 for the limited-edition pieces which include the Shiva -- a pen inspired by Lord Shiva -- and 1010: Ten minutes past ten.

Apart from writing instruments, Caran d'Ache also makes accessories and fine arts materials as well as a range of office supplies.



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William Penn: Quest for fine pens

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According to the deal, William Penn will have the exclusive rights to retail Caran d'Ache in its ten stores as well as the option of selling it through other retail outlets, luxury boutiques and so on.

The new deal, which will be formally announced in a few weeks, is a part of a larger strategy at William Penn. "We want to house the best and finest pen brands in our store and be known as a world pen store," Ranjan points out.    


Image: A William Penn outlet in Malad, Mumbai.

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Thus, apart from the exclusive tie-ups, William Penn has the retail rights for luxury brands like Cartier, Conway Stewart, Cross, Faber Castell, Lamy, Porsche Design, Retro 51, Sailor, St. DuPont and Waterman. The prices of these products range between Rs 1,000 and Rs 2 lakh.

The move seems to be paying off. Ranjan claims his business is growing at an admirable rate of 25 per cent. What is more, he is opening five more stores this year to take the tally to 15.

"The reason we do well is because there are very few things that men can indulge in. Watches and pens are among those," he says.


Image: Brushed chrome gold trim 325 ball point pens.

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Luxury pens are a growing business in India. Mont Blanc was the first to set up exclusive retail stores at high-end locations like five-star hotels.

The India franchise for the brand is held by ex-cricketer Dilip Doshi. Luxury brands from across the world have got interested in India because of the rise in purchasing power.



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