The fine print: Coles Pens reveals why retail sales of stationery are on the rise


Luxury pens are in demand

With the stellar performance of stationery over the last few years and new lifestyle brands making the mighty pen and journal cool again, it appears stationery is no longer just a school necessity, but more a grown-up essential. As the resurgence continues to gain momentum, Keith Cole, CEO of stationery specialist Coles Pens, explains why there is a growing demand in this fast paced digital age and why stationery is a savvy buy for retailers

“The public still love a pen. It has become more than just a writing implement – it’s a sign of power and success. We have seen the demand for more prestige items increase over the last few years, as more and more people invest in quality, heirloom fountain pens, looking at them as collectable investments to keep in the family for generations. The luxury pen is now in the same retail bracket as premium watches,” says Cole.

On average, stationery sales increased by 10% in 2014 and are expected to increase year-on-year by 5%. In 2014, pens and writing tools generated global revenue of $16.2bn, with sales expected to reach $20.2bn by 2019.

World Map Journal

Journals are back in vogue

The Fountain pen in particular is seeing a rise, with many artisanal brands standing out in the marketplace, particularly those specialising in precious metals such as silver. Much like a well-made handcrafted watch, legacy items are where it’s at when it comes to pens, the more exclusive the better. German precision brand Otto Hutt, exclusively distributed through Coles Pens, who began with pocket utensils before extending its range to include weighty silver pens, is a stickler for the kind of detail a collector would look for. Built to last with immaculate craftsmanship, every single part, however small, is made in Germany and includes a unique 6-digit serial number engraved on the cap.

Consumers are also craving distinct and unusual styles. A prime example of this is Japanese brand Platinum. Founded in 1919, Platinum leads the way with its gold-leaf pressed and hand painted designs, each design crafted using both traditional and modern techniques. Famous for its 18k gold oversized nibs and patented slip and seal mechanism that stops the ink from drying out, this brand is one to watch for 2016.

“It’s not just pens that are on the increase, journals, diaries and even the 80’s classic Filofax are back in-vogue, thanks to many fashion-forward brands and the introduction of seasonal colours, limited editions and designer collaborations,” says Cole.

Leather bound journals

Leather bound journals

Nostalgia is having an impact on sales, as countless consumers are celebrating old school items such as journals and diaries – these are still no.1 choices for Christmas gifts and the organised amongst us. Coles Pens, which offers a selection of leather bound journals, has had to expand its range to not only hold a wider variety, but also provide additional colour options to meet requirements. This year too, Coles Pens introduced its leather Photo Album, an item that had taken a backseat over the last decade thanks to the popularity of digital. However, following the trend for ‘old’, it seems the traditional album is back in favour.

Similarly, there is a growing cult following for design-led brands such as Worther and its highly coveted Shorty and Mechanical pencils, along with specialist tools such as the music nib (by Platinum) and the humble quill.

Worther: cult brand

Worther: cult brand

“In our modern age, we increasingly rely on digital and electronic gadgets; and the counterbalance is a yearning for traditional crafts and values, so that a beautiful handwritten note and the art of calligraphy are making a welcome resurgence, says Cole.

A bestseller for Coles Pens, which has an entire Calligraphy section, the refined feather quill sells through museums nationwide, along with gift and craft stores, as calligraphers, artists, authors and historians all clamber to purchase one. It’s easy to see why these items are the holy grail amongst the craft community, and with bloggers, journalists and even the catwalks picking up on the trend for traditional techniques (multiple fashion designers now have illustrators on hand to sketch each runway look), the interest is fuelled further as it becomes more mainstream.

Quill Set Gold Feather Box

Resurgence in traditional techniques

“In our modern age, we increasingly rely on digital and electronic gadgets; and the counterbalance is a yearning for traditional crafts and values, so that a beautiful handwritten note and the art of calligraphy are making a welcome resurgence,” says Cole.

And then of course, there is the introduction of multi-purpose products which incorporate a stylus, such as Otto Hutt’s Design 05 Fountain Pen, giving the user the freedom to write on tablets as well as paper.

With numerous companies relaunching traditional products and adapting to the global trend for stationery, it appears the current revival shows no sign of waning anytime soon.

Catering to all stationery and gifting needs, Coles Pens is the only place to find unique and exclusive items of the finest quality.

Visit Coles Pens at Top Drawer, London Olympia, 11-13 September stand X11