Saturday, July 1, 2023

Pelikan - Potential New Owners Identified

Yes, I realize that, in theory, Henki Time is about watches. But readers of the blog formerly known as Tempus Fugit will note that I am a fan of Pelikan's pens.

A flock of Pelikans

For those of you who follow these sorts of things, it is no small secret that Pelikan has been struggling for the past several years. The quality of the pens remains beyond reproach, but the ownership has been, well, a bit sporadic in their approach. A German based company currently owned by a Malaysian group will (if all goes as planned) be owned by a French stationary company. Confused? Well, in this day and age it is not uncommon for brands to be bought and sold. Moreover, not so unusual for the purchaser to not fully understand what they've bought, and learn the hard way that it is not always about money. It also takes a bit of planning, and more than a bit of consistency.

The last several years have seen more than a few confusing strategic moves originating from the very distant ownership, which have left the folks actually doing the work in Germany at sixes and sevens as they have tried to react to (at times) some very capricious decision making.

For a truly comprehensive bit of coverage, I encourage you to check out Joshua E. Danley's excellent reporting at his site, The Pelikan's Perch -

And if you are into pens? SUBSCRIBE! It is a wonderful bit of pen related journalism.

But to bring this back to Watch Town, the up and down roller-coaster ride that has been Pelikan's past 20 years or so is a parallel to so many watch brands that are bought and sold as playthings. And all too often, these brands then fall into the first circle of Hell - Limbo.

Which we will pick up on our next installment ; )

But back to Pelikan. Many "newbie" pen fans ask themselves why Pelikan can't compete on a global scale with Mont Blanc. Another German pen brand owned by a non-German entity. Now on the surface, the easy answer would be that Richemont might as well be the same as being there (Germany). But a deeper dive will explain why Montblanc has continued to succeed while Pelikan (and countless other historic pen makers) have struggled, and many have foundered on the rocks of modern commerce.

Simply put? If you want to buy a Montblanc pen (a new one, from an authorized retailer) you will be paying full-pop for it. You want to buy a Pelikan pen from an authorized retailer? Good news for you - you can shop around and typically find one for at least 30% off. Now unlike watches, the pre-owned (not vintage, mind you) pen market does not have the same vibrancy as the pre-owned watch market. So in truth? If you want a fancy-pants Pelikan pen, it makes sense to shop around. So inevitably, this leads to a race to the bottom for authorized retailers as they fight each other to win customers most often through aggressive discounting.

Now here's the thing - I truly love Pelikan pens, and I sincerely hope that this will bring to a close the bad old days, and will move them forward.

We shall wait, and we shall see. There are still many chapters for Pelikan to write.

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