The humble but ubiquitous pen has come a long way, braving the onset of the digital age, the threat of the paperless and hence pen-less office and surviving the texting era. From huge, cumbersome, ink-filled fountain pens that required strong fingers, perfect grip and frequent refills, it progressed to ball points, fine tips, roller tips, gels etc.
One entrepreneur who contributed significantly to the ease and comfort of writing was Davindar Kumar Jain. In the 1960s, when he was not assisting customers at his father’s stationery shop in Sadar Bazaar, Old Delhi, he was busy studying a writing instrument that captivated him: the humble pen.
In those days, children used only wooden pencils and graduating to fountain pens meant you had attained some amount of maturity. Most of the pens’ parts were imported.
It is said that when he was just 19, D K Jain decided that this was the business he was meant to be in. Despite opposition from his family, in 1963, with just five employees and ₹5,000, he started a pen manufacturing business. Beginning with assembly, he soon progressed towards manufacturing fully indigenous pens. (In a way, he may be said to have pioneered the writing instruments industry in independent India.)
The company introduced several technological innovations in the pen sector. DK Jain is said to have launched India’s first fibre-tip pen in 1966 under the name ‘Artist’; the brand name ‘Luxor’ was registered in 1968. This was followed by the introduction of filter tip technology in India in 1975, micro tip and 3-D roller ball pens a few years later, markers for different applications such as permanent markers and dry safe ink markers (the markers do not dry even if the cap is off for 24 hours) and fluorescent highlighters in 1986.
Luxor’s R&D division is one of the finest, coming up with new designs and innovations to suit the needs of all user age groups and all professions. Extensive research is conducted before any new product is launched, and customer feedback is incorporated into its new product lines to achieve zero-defect products. Its in-house design centre brings out nibs, inks and filters based on this feedback. The company has also earned a name for ethical business practices.
Luxor introduced the Pilot brand from Japan in 1982. With liberalisation in the early 1990s opening up the market to multinationals and international brands, the Luxor brand faced strong competition. But it used the opportunity as a launchpad for greater growth. It modernised its production lines, bringing in new technologies and training employees in the new work systems.
Tie-ups with global brands
The company had launched Luxor International (1980) to sell its products abroad and entered strategic alliances with other international brands, such as Parker, in 1996, Papermate in 1999 and Waterman in 2003. (Luxor holds the manufacturing and marketing franchise for Parker and Waterman in India.) It further enlarged and developed its customer base by bringing about 65 countries within its export ambit. All this, achieved over a period of time, not only increased sales but imprinted the Luxor name in the public consciousness and helped top-of-mind brand recall. Today, the Luxor trademark is registered in 126 countries.
All Luxor products are made of the finest material and show immaculate craftsmanship. Its product range today covers permanent markers, white-board markers, highlighters, ball/gel pens, fine liners/ pencils, coloring markers, Ecowrite, metal pens (with Insta Flow technology from Switzerland) and high-end office stationery. It offers a range of corporate gifts (Luxor Expression) and premium notebooks in high-quality paper. It was the first to introduce the erasable ink pen from Pilot Japan (Frixion Ball).
These products roll out of its eight fully-owned production centres in India and are sold via two formats of retail stores — Luxor Signature and Luxor Explore (Shop-in shop) — across several cities. The brand is available today across 1.5 million outlets and also through its e-commerce website launched in 2007 (a first in the writing instruments category — www.luxor.in ).
About 45 brands from around the world are associated with the Luxor name. It is also an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for several international writing instrument brands. Its products are exported to about 95 countries worldwide, including the US, Europe, Australia and the UAE.
Other products, advertising
The brand has diversified into tablets and digital office products, nano technology, fibre optics, real estate and hospitality.
Luxor has constantly made efforts to retain top-of-the-mind recall among consumers through its ads and promotions. Starting with a simple but hard-hitting tagline ‘For the first time in India’ in its initial ads, it went on to sign sportsmen and film stars to promote its products (the first writing instruments brand to do so), triggering the ‘celebrity endorsement’ trend in India. Through its school activation programme, it conducts writing, drawing, calligraphy and painting competitions and organises workshops too.
Luxor follows environment-friendly manufacturing practices. Its ‘Eco-Write’ series of pens is manufactured using recyclable products. The company has received the coveted EcoLogo for this series — it is only the second writing instruments company in the world to be awarded this certificate. It also holds other certifications testifying to its environment-friendly approach — ISO 14001; the ACMI AP (Art & Creative Materials Institute certified Approved Product — as non-toxic to humans); REACH compliance — Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals; EN 71 — European Safety Approval; and the US standard of ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) and CE — conformity with health, safety and environmental protection standards within the European Economic Area.
Luxor is the first company to be recognised by the Indian Government as an Export House Manufacturing & Exporting Quality Writing Instruments. The first SAP-enabled company in the writing instruments category, it holds the following certifications that endorse its quality and compliance with international standards: ISO 9001; CT-PAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism); WCA – Workplace Conditions Assessment; and OHSAS 18001. Every Luxor product conforms to Germany’s stringent DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung) standards.
Awards, social responsibility
Both founder DK Jain and the company he created have received several awards. The former was the founder of Writing Instruments Manufacturers’ Organisation (WIMO). Probably the most important award for the company is the recognition of Luxor as a Business and Consumer Superbrand in all editions since the ‘Superbrands’ programme was introduced. It has also received the Highest Exporter of the Year award 12 years in a row, from the President of India. It is in the Limca Book of Records 2003 for conceptualising and designing the smallest pen in India. It has won several awards from the Quality Circle Forum of India and has been awarded the HSBC Gold Card Certificate.
On the CSR front, Luxor focusses on education (the Luxor Foundation promotes education among the underprivileged) and women’s empowerment (reflected not just in the leadership and workforce but also in the programmes strengthening their rights and ensuring their security). Luxor is part of the ‘School Chalein Hum’ literacy drive and promotes the ‘Literacy for All’ programme. Apart from this, the company ensures the well-being and safety of its employees and people living near its manufacturing facilities.