Torsten Jahn loves the area of tension between tradition and modernity, towards which he is steering the Pelikan Group. He likes to initiate strategic processes. As Managing Director of Pelikan Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, he and his team are responsible for developing the brand and sales strategies of Pelikan, Herlitz, Susy Card and Geha for Germany and Austria. In the Office Brands Industry Association, he is one of two chairmen campaigning for a lively exchange of views on the most pressing issues of the future situated between the spheres of industry and commerce.
Pelikan can look back on more than 180 years of company history. On what values can the company also build on in the future thanks to this tradition?
It is, of course, exactly this history that has shaped our brand. We're still benefiting from this: from our experience, our focus on the end user and our high-quality products. These topics are still very important to us today, but the values of innovation, integrity and teamwork are also crucial to us as a group.
You revitalised the Pelikan district in Hanover last year with your "TintenTurm" ("InkTower"). How do you showcase the brand there?
Pelikan was founded in Hanover more than 180 years ago, precisely in the place where the Pelikan TintenTurm still stands today. When I enter the ancient hall, I sense the aura of great history. On the one hand, there are historical products on display and, on the other, we also make the Pelikan brand come alive. Since the historical building is also the place where the company was founded and a lot of exhibits from various epochs remind visitors of the history of the place, I think it's really great. You can see history and great traditions on the one hand and the modernity of our products on the other. We've also integrated a brand shop and regularly organise exhibitions, readings and concerts with up to 200 guests. This is a great way to present our current products and interact with the end user at the same time.
Since March 2014, you've been offering Pelikan and Herlitz products from a single source. What has been the response of the retail trade?
Right from the start, reactions were rather subdued, because, in the past, Herlitz was more prevalent on the mass market. That's why a certain restraint was felt. In the meantime, most specialist retailers have changed their minds and, today, they're happy that we're also introducing modern and, above all, fresh ideas into our product range under the Herlitz brand – as in the area of paperboard and mass-produced products. So we can now offer retailers some nice additions to their range.
What new products are you going to surprise retailers with in 2019?
We've been very busy with the question of what painting at school is really all about. That's how we got onto the topic of the paintbrush, a vital part of painting, and, together with teachers and pupils, we thought about how we could improve the use of the brush. We've made the range of school brushes the centre of our attention this year. The result is the five griffix paintbrushes of a child-friendly length and impressive premium brush hair quality. With their ergonomic triangular shape, "The 5 right ones for elementary school" promote the fine motor skills of the child's hand right from the very beginning. In addition, the griffix brushes are colour-coded, making it easier for teachers to communicate with their pupils, as they can easily tell them which brush they need to use for which task.
Why are you exhibiting at Insights-X?
Pelikan has been at Paperworld in Frankfurt for many years, which has naturally added great value to the brand's internationality. We opted for Insights-X this year and the next, because the timing is perfect. That's when the listing talks for the 2019 and 2020 school start will take place. That's one great advantage of Nuremberg. We also have a clear focus here on the product ranges that are relevant for buyers and new customers. The timing is right, the focus on stationery, school and office supplies is right and we feel we're in good hands here.
How do you rate the quality of the visitors and your discussions with them?
Visitor quality is very high. I have to say that the quality of the talks we have here is also very good. Of course, this is also due to the advantage as regards timing that Insights-X offers. Visitors can view the products presented at other fairs, too, but this is the perfect time to showcase our new school products.
What bit of your job are you passionate about?
The stationery, school and office supplies industry is an exciting industry that plays by its own rules in the retail sector. Although it's often looked down on by outsiders, because it's not so dynamic, it is nevertheless very complex. In retailing, product turnover in our industry is not as fast as in other industries. My personal passion is launching exciting products on the market, designing complexity and also earning money with it.