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.

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Change Of Plans: Pelikan May Be Eyeing A New Plant At Their Peine-Vöhrum Site

Pelikan's factory in Peine-Vöhrum, Germany

Back in October, I brought you news of a prospective land sale by Pelikan for the purpose of having a logistics center built next to their existing manufacturing plant in Peine-Vöhrum, Germany. That plant counts nearly 240 employees among its labor force, and it is the site of production for Pelikan’s fine writing instruments, amongst other things. It was suggested by management at the time of the original announcement that the proceeds from the sale of a non-operating asset such as this could be put to use modernizing the plant, something that is long overdue. Pelikan’s current facilitates located on the Pelikanstraße date back to the early 1970s and are now nearly fifty years old. By all accounts, the plant is showing its age and falling behind the times, becoming increasingly antiquated and less well suited for its intended purpose. Lined up to buy the nearly 6.2 acre tract of land was the Hillwood Group, a U.S. based investment company with German headquarters in Frankfurt am Main. They are a developer of residential, commercial, and industrial real estate with operations in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Poland. The city council of Peine approved the development plan by a large majority back in October, affirming their keen interest in keeping Pelikan’s plant at its current location. That same city council last met publicly on the evening of Thursday, February 23rd, the proceedings of which were reported in the Peiner Allgemeine by Jan Tiemann. Council members were informed immediately prior to the proceedings about a potential change in plans, a development not previously forecasted. Read on to learn about the new proposal coming to light.

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Pelikan Looks To Sell Land Adjacent To Their Peine-Vöhrum Plant

Pelikan's Peine-Vöhrum Manufacturing Plant

While the central focus of this blog has always been the writing implements and related ephemera that Pelikan has produced over the past 90+ years, I find it insightful to also stay up to date regarding the goings on at the factory and beyond. Doing so can provide a window into the health of the company. Pelikan is a large organization with a very complicated corporate structure that contains many assets and investments which go well beyond their fine writing instruments. Still, some of their publicly reported business decisions hit close to home and those are the ones that I try to bring to you. I previously gave an account of three such occurrences beginning last June with demonstrations at Pelikan’s Peine-Vöhrum manufacturing plant by union employees protesting conditions at the factory. Then, in July 2021, Pelikan sold its logistics center located in Falkensee, Germany. By August, the factory had received a visit from Hubertus Heil (SPD), Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, over the ongoing labor dispute. Since that visit, news about the goings on at the factory has been sparse, that is until now. Thanks to the recent reporting of Thomas Kröger for Peiner Allgemeine, we now know that talks are underway regarding a major project on the Pelikanstraße in Vöhrum. Pelikan is currently looking to sell a little over 6 acres of land in a plot that lies to the northeast of their manufacturing plant. The prospective buyer wishes to use the land to build a logistics center, a possibility currently being explored with the city of Peine. What does this potentially mean for Pelikan? Read on to learn more.

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The German Federal Minister For Labor And Social Affairs Visits Pelikan’s Vöhrum Factory

Pelikan Group Logo

Back in July, I brought you news of some rather significant strife occurring within the walls of Pelikan’s Vöhrum factory, the production facility where the company manufactures its fine writing instruments. Workers at the plant, a force numbering approximately 230 strong, had staged a public demonstration in order to protest and bring awareness to several perceived injustices. Christmas bonuses not yet paid in full and June’s wages being delayed contributed to tensions boiling over. Imagine that scenario playing out in an environment where employees have already given up five days of vacation and 15% of their collective wages in a bid to keep their jobs. Concerns had also previously been put forth about a lack of investment in the plant itself. Of course, none of this news made much of a splash outside of the local papers but the post here exposed the issues to a larger audience and generated a lot of conversation about the health of the factory and the future of Pelikan’s fine writing division, not only on this blog but on many of the pen forums as well. I have frequently been asked for updates on the situation and have continued to monitor the news out of Germany. There hasn’t been much to report until now. If you recall from my original post, works council chairman Walter Dettmer had called upon Hubertus Heil (SPD), Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, to get involved in the dispute. A trip to the Peine-Vöhrum plant was scheduled for mid-August and occurred as planned just a few weeks ago. Thanks to some local reporting, I can update you with some of the goings on at that meeting.

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Discord At The Factory: All Is Not Well At Pelikan’s Peine-Vöhrum Plant

Protest cartoon stock image

COVID-19’s global impact on just about every facet of human life has been far reaching and felt in a way that hasn’t been experienced for nearly an entire generation. Many businesses have already failed due to the unique stressors imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. Other industries have been forced to completely retool the way that they approach their operations in an effort to mitigate the impact upon their business. The reasons for why some have succeeded where others have failed are numerous and vary by industry. To better understand Pelikan’s own trials during this time, I had previously reached out to Jens Meyer, Pelikan’s Global Marketing Manager for Fine Writing Instruments. He was good enough to respond to my August 2020 and April 2021 inquiries and relay some of the problems his division has faced. Some of the challenges cited included issues with the factory’s on-site work force due to government imposed COVID-19 work restrictions, delayed acquisition of raw materials necessary in the manufacturing process, and increased shipping times which had held up the delivery of finished goods to Pelikan’s distribution partners. These impediments have left the company’s vendors without stock and new releases have been running well behind their usual robust schedule. With each missive, Jens did strike a note of optimism that the plight faced was being worked through as best as could be expected. The struggles noted would be challenging for even the healthiest of companies to surmount. Any business already confronting issues pre-pandemic would certainly experience an exacerbation of those prior tensions in addition to a slew of new problems. Such is the case as it relates to Pelikan whose tribulations have now been laid bare within the German press. While some have long suspected a more opaque back story than what had previously been acknowledged, it now seems that the issues run far deeper than anything previously reported. Read on to learn of the unrest that has bubbled to the surface at Pelikan’s Peine-Vöhrum manufacturing plant earlier this week.

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