Pelikan On The Move? – Local Politicians Propose Relocating Pelikan’s Factory

Pelikan's factory at Pelikanstraße 11, 31228 Peine, Germany

If you have been following the blog with any regularity, then you know that I have endeavored to keep you abreast of the publicly reported goings on at Pelikan’s factory. I think that it is important to be aware of those developments as they can give us an insight into Pelikan’s future in Germany which will almost certainly impact the fine writing instruments that we adore. For those not keeping tally, I’ll provide a brief recap. Despite being owned by a Malaysian firm, all of Pelikan’s fine writing instruments continue to be manufactured in Germany, just as they have been since the company started producing pens in 1929. From 1906 until 1973, the company’s administrative and production spaces were maintained in Hannover on the Podbielskistraße.  In 1973, it was determined that the facilities on the Podbielskistraße were inadequate and could no longer be expanded to meet the company’s needs. Production was then moved to Peine-Vöhrum, 24 miles east of Hannover, where it remains today.  The number of employed factory workers has varied over the years, but the current count is somewhere around 240. Moving the factory was a real growth moment for the company and they are now clearly on the verge of another. Nearly two years ago, protest erupted at the plant. The grievances aired by employees centered around delayed back pay, austere fiscal policies, and a lack of investment/modernization at the plant. The unrest certainly captured the attention of several elected officials representing that area of the country. Pelikan has since made good on their financial obligations and the turmoil has quieted. In an effort to improve the aging facilities, Pelikan recently sought to enter into an agreement with the US based Hillwood Group which would see them sell the land adjacent to their factory for the purpose of building a logistics center, a facility whose additional capacity could prove very useful for shoring up Pelikan’s own aging facilities. Those plans had the support of local government, and all seemed to be moving forward. Then, just last month, news broke that Pelikan was looking into the prospect of having a new factory built as part of a sale-leaseback arrangement with the Hillwood Group who would then also own the premises that the factory now occupies as well as the newly constructed production space that would be erected on site. Hillwood would then maintain a long term lease with Pelikan for use of the new facilities. That’s a lot, but now you’re all caught up. Oh, yeah, just one more thing. It now looks as if a proposal is on the table to relocate Pelikan’s manufacturing plant all together. Read on to learn more.

Pelikan's factory at Pelikanstraße 11, 31228 Peine, Germany

The area outlined in red reflects the property Pelikan currently owns and maintains in Peine. The empty lot towards the top right corner of the photo is the plot that was to be purchased by Hillwood for the construction of a logistics center. The bottom left corner is Pelikan’s current factory that was more recently being discussed as part of the transaction with Hillwood

Vöhrum is located in the Peine District of Lower Saxony, Germany, a region celebrating its 800th anniversary this year. It is where Pelikan’s current manufacturing plant resides along the Pelikanstraße. Long before talk of a new logistics center surfaced, the region has struggled with automobile traffic and parking. When the original proposal between Hillwood and Pelikan came to light, many of the townsfolk raised their voices out of concern for the additional truck traffic that it would bring to the Pelikanstraße. For their part, the local city council has tried to balance these concerns with the competing desire to keep Pelikan’s manufacturing jobs in Peine. As it stands, local government officials have voiced two major concerns. First, the current infrastructure of the town is not well suited to handle the increased truck traffic expected with the proposed development plans. Secondly, there is genuine concern that the suggested dimensions of the new plant would not fit in well with the current townscape. Like many towns, Peine has a more industrialized section. In this case, it is located along the town’s Eastern edge and houses logistics operations for companies like Action Logistikzentrum, Fiege Logistik Stiftung & Co. KG, and Meyer & Meyer Logistikzentrum Peine. Peine-Ost (Eastern Peine) is an approximately 12 minute easternly drive from Pelikan’s current factory location at a distance of 5.2 miles. The city’s local politicians are now proposing a land exchange. Rather than building a new logistics center and factory in Vöhrum, Hillwood and Pelikan are to be offered a plot of land within the industrial Peine-Ost. The land being discussed is in a lot adjacent to DSV, a global transportation and logistics firm.

Pelikan's factory at Pelikanstraße 11, 31228 Peine, Germany

In this photo, Pelikan’s current land holdings are outlined in red. You can see the factory as it stands in relation to the adjacent portions of town. A large logistics center and new factory would stand out in this area and be somewhat incongruous with the town’s development plan

Located off of state road 321, the proposed location certainly has its advantages. The plot is in an area that is already developed which could help expedite construction. It is also better connected to the roadways necessary for the transportation of goods and could facilitate after hours deliveries, a boon not afforded by the current location. In exchange for the land, the council would ask Hillwood to demolish the existing factory location and complete a soil investigation/remediation. That land could then serve as a site for the construction of new housing and small businesses. This is the early vision that has been put forth by Matthias Wehrmeyer (SPD), spokesman for the “SPD und Grüne” group and Thorge Karnick (CDU), spokesman for the “Gemeinsam für Peine – CDU, FDP, Volt und Weitling” group. Nothing has been finalized and I expect further negotiation needs to take place prior to any agreements being signed. The proposal will either be a nonstarter for Pelikan and Hillwood or a welcome break but, if nothing else, it shows how committed local government is to keeping Pelikan in the region. At the end of the day, I’m sure that the decision will come down to what is most economically viable for the company. Stay tuned to see how these and future developments play out.

Matthias Wehrmeyer and Thorge Karnick

On the left is Matthias Wehrmeyer (SPD), spokesman for the “SPD und Grüne” group. On the right is Thorge Karnick (CDU), spokesman for the “Gemeinsam für Peine – CDU, FDP, Volt und Weitling” group

The city of Peine, Germany

This aerial view of Peine shows the relationship between Pelikan’s current factory and the lot being proposed in the more industrialized eastern edge of town

Proposed land for exchange between Pelikan and the city

This photo shows the plot of land in Eastern Peine being discussed as part of the exchange (outlined in red). Take note of the several logistic centers already built up and maintained in this area


14 responses

  1. Thanks for this very interesting update. Decision-making must involve consideration of so many interests. Those of Pelikan and its owners, workers, and the town. I hope they bring back the translucent stripes, whatever they do with respect to location of the factory and logistics center.


    • It is a very complex issue and striking the right balance to safe guard everybody’s interest will surely be a challenge but it seems like the town is very motivated to work with Pelikan on this which is great to see. I can only hope that enough of us sharing our disappointment is what will help reverse such a poorly chosen decision as abandoning the stripes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The new location is not really nicely shaped, might be difficult.
    Anyway, such a relocation would take a number of years to finalize. Especially, as the owners of Pelikan then have the chance to fully re-engineer and modernize their factory.
    Or they might start looking around for another location in Germany?


    • So many possibilities remain on the table and I personally doubt that Pelikan will go with what the city government is proposing. I agree though, any plans will take years before they fully materialize. Plans are still in a fairly early stage of development I’d guess.


      • That would cost the city a lot. Moving a factory is typically not paid from pocket money.

        I just asked ChatGPT if it has any numbers – it had.
        “According to a study by the Reshoring Institute, the cost of moving a factory can range from $1 million to $50 million”. Don’t know exactly what is in these numbers, it could be much higher if scrapping the old building and reconstruction of the new building is an add-on cost.


        • And I suspect that the bottom line is what will win the day. Whichever path is the most cost effective will likely be the one that Pelikan will take. At this stage in the game, they don’t have the luxury to be extravagant and build on a scale like Apple. That said, Hillwood has deeper pockets so partnering with them may just be the trick to getting it all done.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Hard to believe it has been 5+ years since we toured the factory. Seems like yesterday. While it is very much a factory, it is a small scale factory with highly skilled employees at the various stations inside the factory. It is good that they are considering options that will let them keep their existing team.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. It would make sense for Pelikan to remain in the same relative area. Can’t imagine the cost associated with training a new work force if they had to relocate somewhere out of the area.


  4. Modernization always has challenges and this seems like one of them. If they can remain a viable business and continue to produce the products we all love at reasonable prices (and at satisfactory profits) I’m all in and wish them well. In my mind they are already more than a little behind in this effort.


    • They have been years behind the modernization that the plant is needed. Hopefully they can catch up with the times without having to resort to further increases in what is an already exorbiantly priced product.


  5. I had no idea that Pelikan is a Malaysian firm but retains all of its manufacturing in Germany — such a reversal from the usual practice, and I appreciate that they’ve been committed to maintaining that tradition despite what I’m sure is persistent calls for “globalization”. Owning and operating a company as traditional as Pelikan in the tech era must come with such tremendous challenges, so this saga will definitely be fascinating to watch!


    • Pelikan became insolvent in 1982 and filed for bankruptcy. It was broken up. Was then in Swiss hands for a time. Pelikan has been under control of a Malaysian firm since 1996. The fine writing instruments division is only a small part of “Pelikan.” They accounted for just 6.9% of the company’s revenue in 2021 so the bulk of “Pelikan” as it stands today is derived from other product lines, most of which are produced outside of Germany. I think Pelikan has something like 28 active corporate entities worldwide.

      Liked by 1 person

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