Pentel was founded in Japan in 1946 and has been active in Hamburg since 1969. Although we can’t yet look back on 75 years in Germany, we are, above all, proud of having developed products that meet the spirit of the times over such a long period of time. As the generations have changed, so have the best-selling products and they have been adapted to fit in with technical progress, prevailing quality standards, and new design ideas. Furthermore, we aim to keep our finger on the pulse of time and to win customers over by taking a target group-oriented approach.
As a result of advancing digitalisation, we are becoming increasingly networked around the world. Pentel sells stationery in over 120 countries. Are there nevertheless – or perhaps precisely because of this – different requirements for your products?
M.S.: One consequence of digitalisation is that less is now being written by hand. However, we’re convinced that handwriting and creative work with writing instruments can never be completely dispensed with. For us, the upshot is that we are increasingly focusing on our target group and customer needs and trying to recognise the daily needs and requirements of specific target groups – for example in the hobby and creative sector – at an early stage so we can offer them products with added value. However, added value doesn’t stop at the product, but continues with regard to service. Anyone who avoids the digital transformation will have a hard time in the future. We’re facing up to this change and offering our partners the best possible support and reliable service, both in the online and in the brick-and-mortar sector.
You offer products for trends such as lettering, bullet journaling, and colouring in. How do you decide which products to develop in the future?
M.S.: At Pentel, we approach product development by taking a holistic view. For example, we observe the Asian or North American market and identify whether lasting trends are actually discernible and whether the concepts will also work for Europe. In addition, the aspect of sustainability always plays an important role for us. We ask ourselves which products can be produced in a resource-saving way, have a high quality and a long life cycle, or are refillable.
In your view, which products have a viable future on the market?
M.S.: Products for specific applications and solutions that are tailored to target groups are increasingly in demand. The development of new umbrella brands is one way to respond to the increasingly specific markets and requirements and to seize new sales opportunities. These days, being able to offer consumers a concept as well as an experience is of great importance.
The topic of sustainability is now on everyone’s lips. How do you manage to integrate this aspect into your company?
M.S.: At Pentel, sustainability and environmental friendliness are factors that are considered and implemented with regard to all our products. For example, we’re constantly expanding our range of products that are produced using a high proportion of recycled plastic. What’s more, we’re meeting consumer demands by expanding our portfolio of product sets made of paper, something that also underlines our commitment to reducing packaging waste.
What are you most looking forward to when Insights-X kicks off again in October 2022?
M.S.: What I’m particularly looking forward to is the fact that personal interaction and direct dialogue with customers and business partners will once again be possible again after 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts. Insights-X has gained more importance than ever before as a place for meetings, for industry exchange, and real, live product presentations. There is enormous potential in these interactions because they are what bring a brand to life and make it tangible.
What do you think awaits the stationery trade in 2022?
M.S.: One of the main topics for the next few years will certainly be how the market is becoming increasingly concentrated. The pandemic has exacerbated already existing developments in this respect. I think it’s unlikely that the trend will move in the opposite direction again. And the boundaries between the individual forms of distribution will also become increasingly blurred in the direction of multi- and, ultimately, omnichannels.
Thank you for talking to us, Michael Scholz!
Find out which products in the Writing Instruments and Accessories product group will be displayed at Insights-X – the expo for paper, office supplies, and stationery.
Pentel is a manufacturer of stationery products for writing, drawing, marking, correcting, and archiving, and creative products for hobbyists, DIY enthusiasts, and artists. The products of the long-standing, traditional Japanese brand are known for their high quality. Founded by Yukio Horie as “The Japan Stationery Corporation” in 1946, the company is still family-owned. It operates on a global scale with an extensive production and supply chain network. Michael Scholz, National Sales Manager Germany/Austria, has many years of experience in the stationery, photo, printing, and copying industries and has worked for rotring, CEWE Color, and RISO, among others. He provides insights into the Pentel company and its plans for the future.
Your company celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2021. With such a long corporate history behind it, Pentel has always been able to set new standards. Which products and innovations are you particularly proud of?