This Company is Bringing Men's Favorites Moleskine, Zippo and El Casco to India
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Do you go crazy seeing a bag full of stationery? How would you feel if you get a Moleskine’s smart writing set as a gift from your loved one on your birthday? The advancement of technology may have substituted the traditional techniques of writing, but the craze and love for stationery is undying in India.
Gone are the days when access to premium class writing implements was difficult. Today, from Zippo to Moleskine and El Casco, the international giants in the stationery space are making a beeline to sell their products countrywide. Thanks to the William Penn, a Bengaluru-based retail player who brought these brands to India.
About fifteen years ago when brands like Sheaffer, Hugo Boss, Moleskine, Sailor, Zippo and Lapis Bard had no distributor in India, William Penn began its operations to give these international giants a platform in India. Today, the company has tied-up with 30-odd brands which include the likes of Victronix, Bogui, Cross, Fisher Space Pen, Troika etc.
In a chat with Entrepreneur India, Nikhil Ranjan, the MD of William Penn explained how he is not only bringing more and more multi-national giants to India but also establishing himself as a thriving entrepreneur in the global market.
From a Stationery Store to Men’s Grooming
“When we set up our store, we contacted to the brands in the stationery space from all over the world. We got to know that there are a whole lot of brands that do not have distributors in India,” said Nikhil Ranjan, MD of William Penn. Without wasting much time, Ranjan created a team and opened an e-commerce store getting these brands onboard. In no time, the brand was able to pull off its revenues to survive in the niche market of stationery. And within a few years, it positioned itself as a destination for premium pens and stationery in the market. “We grew in a manner like no other company. We were the only player in the premium stationery market space. And that led us grew faster than what we expected.” Today, William Penn boasts a pan India presence through both retail and online distribution.
The initial months of 2017 saw William Penn at a crucial stage when the brand experimented with its portfolio by offering a mixed collection of stationery and men’s accessories on its portal. Seeing a spurt of demand in gifting space and the growing revenues from the diverse collection, the company eventually re-branded itself in April 2017. William Penn is now planning to stock more collection of men’s lifestyle products.
The collection of accessories includes a diverse range of products that include cufflinks, scarves, cravats, collectable travel items and so on. “Men destination stores are not many in number. There was a growing interest towards luxury accessories which we are now tapping into,” said Ranjan.
Omni-channel Retailing has powered Growth
Talking about what led the company achieve its early growth, Ranjan explained how omnichannel retailing has been a boon for the company’s growth. “Retailing was coming alive in India in 2002, which gave us the way to move forward in the market. By 2006, we opened our e-commerce store to sell products online.”
Ranjan added that it cannot be one over another but both the channels have to exist to sell products.
“We are expanding our retail outlets in Tier II and tier III cities. We are looking for top 25 cities in the country,” he said.
Going forward our expansion will be on men’s accessories. We are India’s only store for men’s accessories.
Demonetization and roll out of GST had affected our growth because of which we were delayed in closing our revenues INR 100 crores. This year, we will be crossing 100 crores revenue figures.