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Promotional Pens and the Impact of Chinese Imports - An Overview

The last few years has seen a dramatic shift on the supply side of the U.K Corporate Gifts Market, particularly by suppliers of promotional pens and promotional pencils. Taking a look at the overall s...

The last few years has seen a dramatic shift on the supply side of the U.K Corporate Gifts Market, particularly by suppliers of promotional pens and promotional pencils. Taking a look at the overall statistics for the market, total imports of products classified as Ballpoint Pens, Felt-tipped Pens and Markers, and Fountain Pens have remained relatively static for the last ten years. What has changed substantially is where the products originate. Imports from China started to take off in 2004 when they jumped from 8.6M to 21M in a single year. Since then imports have grown to 47.8M in 2008. This means our imports from China have doubled in the last 5 years, and so far there is very little sign of this slowing down. Taking promotional pens, Promotional Pencils and other related products together, imports from China have achieved an average growth rate of more than of 15% per annum. This in turn means a serious decline in market share and obvious future operating difficulties for European and North American producers.

Implications for Suppliers of Corporate Gifts.

Where there are winners, there are of course losers, and since the overall Corporate Gifts Market has remained more or less the same size, at least as far as Promotional Pens and Promotional Pencils are concerned, some countries we deal with traditionally have felt a marked fall-off in business. The two biggest losers in percentage terms are North America where imports have fallen by almost 40% from 13M p.a to 8M p.a and the EC which has seen a drop of 9% from 72M to 64M. It is evident that the impact has very different meanings dependent upon whether a company is a distributor, manufacturer or Promotional Printer. For manufacturers, one of the factors we can't quantify is the value of the components of finished pens that are made outside the country. A large proportion of the World's manufactured components are now made in China and assembled in the country from which they are ultimately exported. This means that many European and North American manufacturers are scaling back operations in their home countries and in all probability, there will soon be very few volume manufacturer's of promotional pens or promotional pencils in the Western World. Fortunately there are still gaps in the market for niche suppliers of very high quality pens that are supported by very strong brand names, and these should always have a market albeit probably in high-end retail rather than corporate gifts.


We have been experiencing a time of great change in the Promotional Pens Market during the last five years and the strong growth of Chinese imports seems set to continue at the expense of traditional suppliers. Since the overall market has shown little sign of growth for ten years, there will almost certainly be further movement towards retrenchment and consolidation for those who continue to have manufacturing operations in the West. This situation is very similar to the U.K. automobile industry a few years ago, the most likely route-map for survival and future prosperity of pen manufacturers in The West lies in developing high quality products targeted at niche markets and supported by strong brand imaging, or if they want to continue to be competitive volume manufacturersArticle Search, by moving production facilities to low cost-base operations overseas.

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The Pen Warehouse is one of Europe's leading manufacturers and suppliers of promotional pens and is based in the South East of England. The company prints all promotional pens and pencils in-house and orders can be turned around, printed with your corporate details in twenty four hours.

Our website is the premier domain for promotional pens in the UK.

You can contact our sales department on 0044 1252 400270.

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