Indian stationery business set to grow 30 percent
Tuesday, 26 December 2006, 06:00 Hrs
Chennai: Make a greeting card, gift a pencil box or a sketchbook - this is the time of the year when even adults become children and need felt pens and cart sheets. The market for writing instruments and notebooks in India - estimated at over 45 billion ($1 billion) is witnessing a sharp growth of 30 percent per annum the past three years, experts said at an event over the weekend. The growth is likely to last at least for the next five years, they added. The industry players - representing a wide range of writing instruments - were taking part in Kidex 2006, an event focusing on children that was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). According to industry participants, while market for writing instruments was estimated at 15 billion, that for notebooks was twice the size. The market is also set to witness increased competition from global players at the premium end and at the low-end segments from Chinese imports, experts added. They said that with increased affordability, supply patterns in the recent years have undergone a drastic change, with consumers increasingly opting for new pens instead of refills. An important trend is that leading firms are choosing notebooks and stationery markets for diversification, realizing the potential for children's products in generating a strong and positive brand loyalty. Luxor, a licensee for leading writing instrument brands like Britain's Parker, Japan's Pilot France's Waterman, is launching Planet Happy - an international brand for a wide range of learning, writing and coloring products. Planet Happy products will cater to the premium segment, officials said. "Luxor is also India's largest exporter of writing instruments. We export to over 110 countries," said Lalit K R Sharda, the company's assistant product manager. He said this business segment was growing at 50 percent a year and that the company hoped to step up its turnover to 1.25 billion next year from 750 million. The company's Junior brand, which caters to the economical market for coloring, sketch and markers pens, is registering a steep growth and will soon see the introduction of gift sets of coloring books. The company will also launch its own designer pen brand of Louis Charron mainly for school students, besides opening 100 retail stores in the country under the Signature brand name - as the one in the national capital. Camlin, which has over 1,300 products for the Indian stationery and coloring segment, is planning to introduce more new products this year. Its stationery products - 75 percent of which is sold to students - has seen tremendous growth, said A.K. Shetty, the group's zonal business manager. The market for pencils is estimated at 2 billion in India - 85 percent with Hindustan Pencils despite stiff competition from unorganized players and global brands, company officials said. With brands like Natraj and Aspara, officials said, the company makes 14 types of pencils and has over 150 products, including pencil sharpeners and erasers. The company has recently entered into coloring instruments market under the brand name Colorama and has recently entered into ball pens market as well. The retail division of Ballarpur Industries - a leading paper manufacturer, has now entered the production of notebooks. It markets notebooks for kids and youth under the brand names of 10on10 and Matrix. The retail division is already growing at 30 percent a year despite entering the notebooks market some 18 months ago, said Narayan Khetan, head of south zone retail division. The turnover of the company's retail division is 25 billion and aims for the number one position in the notebooks market over the next three years, he added.