News: Pelikan’s European Price Increase

Pelikan M800 bindes; Green, Blue, Red, AnthraciteRumors began to circulate late last year that Pelikan was considering increasing their European prices.  It was unclear at the time as to what such an increase would look like but details have steadily emerged from the European Union over the last few weeks.  It is well known that European pricing has long been cheaper than that of the USA and some other regions.  US consumers have been able to save hundreds of dollars by shopping from overseas vendors.  Pelikan broke routine and caused some consternation regarding the direction of their US pricing strategy when they reduced the US MSRP for their last two releases.  The M605 White-Transparent and the M805 Ocean Swirl were priced well below what prior, comparable models commanded.  The strategy that Pelikan seemed to be working towards was to level the playing field across the globe.  Select Pelikan products from many overseas vendors are about to see a rise in cost.  Unfortunately, these newly announced price increases come at the same time as the company’s 180th anniversary which will be marked by the release of many new special and limited edition pens.  While this would usually be cause for celebration amongst enthusiast, the price increases could certainly dampen enthusiasm for the new products.

What we now know is that Pelikan is raising prices on models across all of their product lines equipped with EF nibs by roughly 10-12%, effective immediately.  This means that an M8xx model, for instance, equipped with an EF nib will cost ~€40 ($49.71) more than its F, M, or B counterparts.  Similarly, the much cheaper M200 Brown Marbled with an EF nib is about €9 more ($11.18) than the same model fitted with other nib sizes.  I’m sure that few would complain about paying this type of surcharge if it meant the introduction of an oblique, flexible, or Pelikan M200 Green, Blue, and Brown Marbled variantsitalic option all of which are missing from the current, staid nib line-up.  Why than single out the EF nib?  The official reasoning is that EF nibs take more time to produce due to the extra grinding and polishing that needs to occur for a smooth writing experience.  EF nibs have also reportedly been popular and make up a decent proportion of sales.  If that reasoning sounds suspect, consider this.  Several sources across the globe report that the unofficial reason for this price increase is to discourage EU vendors from selling their wares to Asia.  This opaque attempt at controlling the markets is extra disappointing when you consider that many have to buy an EF width in order to get a remotely fine line since Pelikan’s nibs write rather wide.  Also, it’s not hard to imagine that the company hopes to cash in on some of the excitement that this year’s releases are sure to generate.

 

A table illustrating the change in German MSRP and retail pricing from 2017-2018

Model
MSRP – 2017
MSRP – 2018
2018 Retail Price*
% Change in Retail Price
M800 Green Striped w/ EF nib
€480
€545
€436
13.54%
M800 Green Striped w/ F nib
€480
€495
€396
3.13%
M200 Brown Marbled w/ EF nib
€105
€121
€96.80
15.24%
M200 Brown Marbled w/ F nib
€105
€110
€88
4.76%

*Retail price includes the 19% German VAT which would be subtracted for buyers outside of the EU.  Some price variation amongst vendors is to be expected and the above numbers are meant as a representative illustration only.

 

As if the above wasnt bad enough, many EU vendors who sell Pelikan pens will see a much less financially friendly landscape this year.  It is reported that the margin on retail sales is to be approximately 5% lower than last year and that the end of year sales bonuses are being reduced/discontinued.  The negative impact on profits that these reductions are likely to have are further compounded when you factor in the weak US dollar.  Despite a robust US economy by most indicators, the value of the dollar has been somewhat lagging.  The strong Euro will certainly cut down on international sales for overseas vendors due to the US dollar having less purchasing power.  There is real concern abroad that these changes have the potential to harm profits and the overall standing of the brand with the vendors on whom they rely.  For what it’s worth, I have not heard of any details or news of a change in US pricing policy.  It seems that, domestically, it’s business as usual for now.  It will be interesting to see whether or not these global adjustments will affect US sales.  Despite the newly raised prices, the wares of overseas vendors are still more competitive than those of most US vendors, just not to the same levels as previously.

Pelikan M8xx nibs

Two of these nibs now cost $50 more than the other

 

The bottom line seems to be that if you are looking to purchase a Pelikan pen or nib from overseas, consider avoiding the EF width and saving yourself what seems to be a gratuitous surcharge imposed by the company.  You might well invest the savings in a custom grind thereby allowing you to get your desired width from a well tuned nib.  I had hoped that Pelikan was beginning to understand the global marketplace when select US prices were reduced last year.  It seems that the company is still attempting to control the market by deincentivizing cross-region sales.  While I’m sure that Pelikan is hoping to boost profits, I can’t help but think that the result will ultimately be lost sales.  Will this latest price increase affect your decision to purchase a new Pelikan pen?

 

24 responses

  1. Don’t know how much this will affect me personally, as I don’t normally buy EF nibs anyway. Of my six birds, only two have been purchased new. A M200 Cognac (F) from a Japanese vendor and my most recent – the M200 brown marbled (M) from The Writing Desk in the UK. None of my birds have an EF. Three F’s, two M’s and an OB across six pens. If there is purchase of a new Pelikan this year perhaps it will be a B.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My M800 Burnt Orange is also equipped with an EF nib but I don’t believe the line is as broad as you describe. I definitely think there is variability between batches.

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  2. Thanks for the information, Joshua.
    This is bad news indeed! I don’t buy EF nibs, instead I go for B’s. But, this signals that the company has no intention of taking a hard look in their policies and of listening to the customers. They’d rater take the easy way out.

    I know that, at least from my part, they have been loosing business already. Pelikan pens are the best fit for me, and I’d rather buy the ones I don’t have. But, since there are no interesting nibs available, I have been led to buy pens from their main competitor (MB), which offers from EF to OBBB for the same price and the nibs have a lot more character (I know I could regrind the nibs, but I prefer my pens to be original). For now, however, I will continue to buy the Souveran line releases.

    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that introducing nibs with more character would be huge for the company but I just don’t see it happening. Thankfully there is such a back catalog of vintage Pelikan pens with utterly amazing nibs. Since the company’s first fountain pen, I’ve catalogued about 45 different nib sizes/shapes ever produced. Current production is just 5 😦

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  3. I buy exclusively EF nibs, and until this year, was buying them from Europe. So I am disappointed to see this news, to say the least. I can only imagine that it will make me think twice about buying the newest releases. There are a lot of older releases I’d like to get which are priced just as high, so I’ll probably get some of those, and fewer Pelikans overall. It’s a depressing thought though. I don’t know how global marketing works but I wish they could just even the playing field– effectively penalizing the writer for using finer nibs (even if it reflects more labor) seems like the wrong move.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EF and F are my go to nib sizes as well because I write small. I agree with your sentiments. It seems like a money grab on the back of a popular nib size. I will only buy F nibs going forward from Europe to save the surcharge.

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  4. Interesting reading Joshua. Here in the UK the MRP of a M800 is £460 but the actual cost is £290, including VAT, from the main retailers (Niche, Writing Desk, etc.). Now presumably those retailers can make a profit at that price, so what does that tell us? Also the comparison could be made with the MB 146 Le Grand, which is the closest MB to the M800, and it’s price is £490 with no discounts available.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The UK RRP for an M800 is £460 and retail pricing including VAT is £290 just as you suggest. That’s about 37% off the RRP which is pretty good pricing. The US and much of the EU doesn’t really go much below 20% RRP. Not sure how the UK pricing still allows room for profit but take advantage while you can.

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  5. Well, the birds are quite pricey already, but hey, since I have no problem altering gold nibs myself as on my M300 [world’s largest EF to true (E)EF], M320 [baby’s bottom M to stubbish M] and M400 White Tortie [F (ha! kidding me!?!) to F-ish architect style], the price increase on EF nibs doesn’t bother me that much.

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  6. In my case I tend to purchase the M nibs. Being in Canada I have to contend with shipping cost and customs. What some companies are not “getting” is that the internet allows for a lot of price checking globally, so as a consumer I can do the math and figure where I can spend less $’s, if I can purchase “in country” great if not I will look overseas (as was the case with M805 white) and purchase there

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    • While there is a lot to be said for establishing a relationship with a retailer or two, I agree that human nature and the global economy makes shopping for the best price all too easy. I can get pens shipped from across the globe quicker than across the county a lot of times.

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  7. Excellent report, Joshua. I agree; it is pathetic that Pelikan is resorting to such an obvious strategy to discourage Asian customers from buying from European vendors. A Pelikan EF nib is probably close to a F from anyone else. I recently bought the Brown Marbled M200 with a F nib and had it tuned by Linda at IPD (she did an excellent job, BTW). Even with the nib being nicely tuned, the size is still more like a M when compared to other pens made in America or Europe. Which is fine by me in this case, I expected that and wanted that size nib. However, I have recently been considering getting an EF nib so that I could enjoy a true F writing experience. Since I buy mostly from U.S. vendors, hopefully this strategy won’t affect me. But I think it’s a dirty trick, regardless. And it’s pointless, besides. Knowing what little I know about Asian writing, I would think they’d have to have a Pelikan EF nib custom ground so that it would be fine enough. So it’s not really fair to charge more for it right up front.

    Pelikan’s little argument that EF nibs take more work is pretty lame. I don’t know of any other companies that charge more for an EF nib. EEF or UEF, yes. But not for a regular EF; especially as wide as Pelikan’s nibs are. How much extra grinding work could they be doing, anyway, for a nib that’s actually more like a regular F? In addition, if they are charging more because an EF nib takes more work to make, doesn’t an EF nib sold in the U.S. take the same amount of extra work? So why only charge more for them in the European market? This punches holes in their already-lame reasoning.

    I love Pelikans and will continue to buy them. For now. However, this is just one more ploy by Pelikan that has left a sour taste in my mouth. If Pelikan continues to make these kinds of moves, they are going to make a lot of people think twice before buying another one of their pens.

    Just the other day, I ordered my first vintage Pelikan. If I like that pen as much as I expect to, I suspect I won’t be buying as many new ones in the future. I think if Pelikan wants to build and keep their customer base, they should expand into the types of nibs they used to offer (all the special grinds) and take a very close look at their pricing strategy, with an eye to fairness and reason. As long as they keep making plays that seem so patently unfair to their customers, they’re going to lose.

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    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts Debi. There are other vendors that charge more for an EF but this is certainly the first time the strategy has been employed by Pelikan. I agree that they may indeed be straining what their customer base will tolerate. Enjoy your new vintage Pelikan pen!

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  8. I just purchased an M805 from Cult Pens and was amazed at the difference in price compared to US vendors. I feel slightly guilty, as there are US vendors I like to support — ones I’ve actually met and who offer great service. But the guilt cannot override paying $315 vs. $500 – $600 for the same pen.

    It’s a shame for retailers. This reminds me of the bicycle industry, where exchange rates and online sales have made it difficult for brick and mortar bike shops to sell Shimano (Japan) or Campagnolo (Italy) bike components. As with bikes, the pen stores that offer full service (nib customization for example) seem best situated.

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    • I think that there is an intangible value to establishing a relationship with a vendor. But, like you said, no relationship is worth a several hundred dollars per unit more expensive price. Pelikan’s pricing will continue to punish vendors in markets that are priced well above others since people can shop online from nearly anywhere these days.

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  9. Pingback: Pelikan’s European Price Increase | An Inkophile's Blog

  10. Regarding nibs, it would be a huge improvement if Pelikan releases OM and OB at least. One of the reasons why I still buy M400 and M200 is that I can replace the nibs by old OM and OB. if they should manufacture them as new, i would personally save money, even with increasing prices 🙂

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    • I would love to see the re-introduction of obliques. I enjoy the stainless steel ones that I have for the M2xx line. Alas, I doubt it’ll ever happen which is a shame.

      Like

  11. Pingback: News: Pelikan Raises U.S. Prices « The Pelikan's Perch

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