Consistently ‘Writing’ the Future of Stationery with Staedtler
Mr. P. C. Baid, was based in Mumbai before he established Alpha International in 1989 in Hyderabad. Mr. Baid had an impressive experience of 10+years in the realms of Importing and Marketing Writing and Technical Drawing Instruments from Germany, Japan, and other countries. Through his efforts and networking, Staedtler appointed Alpha International as the Sole Distributor for their products for the most part of India. Under the leadership of Mr. P. C. Baid and the stewardship of his son Mr. Vikash Jain, Alpha International is now one of the top names in the list of suppliers in the country. The company understands and has consistently adapted itself to the volatile demands and business environment of the country, thus keeping the reputation and leadership status of Staedtler products
in the country.
PSS: What has been your journey like with Staedtler in the country up to now?
Mr. Vikash Jain: We - Alpha International was established in 1989. Initially we started as the distributor for Staedtler for most of part of the country, but were importing through a designated importer M/s. Continental Exporters, Bangalore for several reasons including the import license issue at the time. In 2001, given our association with Staedtler, we were appointed as the exclusive importer and distributor for their products in India.
Staedtler initially began with technical drawing products – those in the field of engineering, architects and related were the main users. However, now the products cover a wider audience which includes students, professionals, and lifestyle products (high quality pens- fine liners, fountain pens, a premium range even in erasers & sharpeners).
Staedtler is 350 years old company and have built a wide range of end to end stationery products. Staedtler’s premium products are their best sellers Color pencils, Graphite pencils, fineliners, markers – several types of writing instruments. As a distributor we are extremely happy with the association since there are minimal complaints about the quality of the products. In fact consumers share personal stories at expos and exhibitions with regard to why they treasure Staedtler products. We are looking forward to meeting with consumers at the Stationery Expo from 11th to 15th September, this year at the Pragati Maidan.
PSS: Is it still a niche market?
Mr. V.J.: While the range of products has moved from 30-40 SKUs to about 350-400 SKUs, reaching out to a larger number of people, the products are still high end and hence niche.
PSS: How does the Indian Market compare with the European Market?
Mr. V.J.: The Indian Market is still small for Staedtler when compared with European market and few other Asian countries. As the distributor for Indian market, we make a small contribution to the overall turnover for Staedtler, and yet the behemoth company continues to extend their cooperation.
We and they are hopeful that India will soon become a major contributor to their bottom line, given the sheer size and growth in population of the country. Additionally, the focus on education and government initiatives to increase the per capita income are two factors that add to the positivity.
PSS: How do you plan on making writing instruments affordable for more people?
Mr. V.J.: Today, Staedtler products are prescribed for art, architecture or interior / fashion design students and they are expected to use these prescription products to get the desired results. Staedtler does not and will never compromise on quality and hence the pricing is unlikely to come down significantly for the current range. The company may come up with a range of products that would cater to a larger audience later on, but the quality would not be compromised.
PSS: Is there any Make in India Plan from Staedtler?
Mr. V.J.: We feel as Staedtler has manufacturing facilities at Thailand and Indonesia in Asia, and hence in near future may not have plans to set up such a facility in India.