Homegrown William Penn aims to script history with American legacy brand Sheaffer acquisition

By Palak Agarwal
August 17, 2022, Updated on : Fri Sep 16 2022 02:48:28 GMT+0000
Homegrown William Penn aims to script history with American legacy brand Sheaffer acquisition
William Penn was started by Nikhil Ranjan in 2002 as a premium substitute for local stationery. Recently, the company acquired a century-old American brand Sheaffer to write a global success story.
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William Penn, a name that resonates with premium pens, recently acquired Sheaffer, the 110-year-old American writing instruments manufacturer. Through this acquisition, the homegrown company has entered the international market. 


Talking to SMBStory, Nikhil Ranjan, founder of Bengaluru-based William Penn says that this acquisition—considered to be one of the biggest in the premium writing instrument industry— is pegged at around Rs 450 crore. Nikhil did not disclose the acquisition cost but said that the deal was a remarkable opportunity to further build on the preferences and tastes of Indian customers. 

“This is a proud moment for us as we take over Sheaffer’s manufacturing, marketing and retailing across 75 countries including USA, UK, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand, South Africa, Japan and India among others. The acquisition comprises the brand’s complete product portfolio and licenses, including premium pens, journals and gift sets,” Nikhil tells SMBStory.

Sheaffer is known for its luxury fountain pens. 


The deal was a complete takeover where Nikhil says that there are a few former employees from the management of Sheaffer who would be part of the William Penn brand. 


But how does William Penn plan on expanding its presence, given the digital revolution?


Nikhil asserts that pens never go out of fashion.

Strategies to stay afloat

Nikhil launched William Penn in 2002 with an investment of around Rs 30 lakh. In 2019, the company touched a Rs 100 crore turnover mark. By this time, William Penn had also introduced its own in-house label PennLine with tie-ups with premium brands like Cross, Waterman, and MontBlanc to name a few. 


But pandemic changed the course of the business as the company saw a dip in its revenue by 45%. 

“Our customers are professionals who like to write or give premium pens as a gift. The pandemic made everyone stay indoors. Though the business was up and running, we saw a dip in the demand but I would also like to mention that as the market opened up, and people strive to go back to normal, our business revived,” he says.

This year, in FY22, William Penn witnessed a 30% rise in the business compared to the previous fiscal. 


“Gifting a pen has a strong emotion and we are a premium lifestyle destination for writing instruments and gifting solutions in India. More than 50% customers who walk into our stores have an intent of gifting the products we serve and we are on our way to strengthen it now having Sheaffer as well on board,” he says.


Besides, Nikhil is also aiming to expand the portfolio of accessories like cardholders, wallets, journals etc. The manufacturing of William Pen's in-house and acquired brands takes place in India, China, Taiwan, and Europe.

William Penn

Sheaffer's pens range

The market

The office segment is the second highest consumer of pens after schools. Given the rise of digital solutions, many companies are foraying into introducing different styles and designs of pens to stay afloat while also expanding into categories like diaries, gift sets, and stylus pens, among others. 


William Penn has a strong focus on the gifting sector. It has 25 stores across India, including retail outlets at key airports. Its premium products are also available online on William Penn’s e-commerce platform as well as on leading luxury portals. 

Future prospects

With the acquisition of Sheaffer, William Penn says it will continue to raise the bar with a dedicated investment in product development and marketing as well as augmenting the brand’s digital presence. The company is expecting a 30% YoY growth, post this acquisition. 


“Sheaffer presently enjoys a 15% market share in the premium writing instruments (pens above $10) segment in India. We hope to double this market share and plan to make India one of the top markets for Sheaffer in the next three years. As a global player, we look forward to changing the rules of the game,” adds Nikhil.


Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti

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