Uni pencils for Polish pupils

They say that the pressure of thinking about university applications comes earlier every year for schoolchildren. Now pupils are going to be surrounded by Oxford paraphernalia from their first days at school.

Oxford Limited, the commercial affiliate of the University, has brokered a three-year deal to create a dedicated range of branded stationery and back-to-school gear from summer 2012. But don’t think you can sort out birthday and Christmas presents for your younger siblings yet – the range is exclusively going for sale in Eastern Europe.

The company has given licensing rights to two firms, St Majewski in Poland and SC Pigna in Romania, to create ranges featuring the University brand and logo. The Polish range will feature pencil cases, notebooks, folders, organisers and bags, while in Romania pupils will be treated to messenger style bags, backpacks, stationery sets and even water bottles.

Chris Evans, MD of Oxford Limited, said the deal came in line with the company’s strategy “to build the programme in product areas that have a direct relevance to the University, its accomplishments or history.”

He added: “Both St Majewski and SC Pigna are market leaders in their respective territories. The range will be a mid-market proposition aimed at children of school age and teenagers.  Both companies believe that consumer reaction will be positive and translate into sales and royalties for the University.”

Licensees have also been appointed for similar ranges in other territories, such as South Korea, Spain, Portugal and China, he said, as a “means of building income and delivering increasing returns to the University.”

Oxford Limited’s previous venture last year into the world of furniture was received with criticism by several Oxford students and academics who branded it “vulgar”, “inappropriate” and “tacky”. However, at the time the company defended the range, entitled The Oxford Collection, saying: “all taxable profits are transferred by Gift Aid to the University of Oxford”.

Although exact pricing of the new Polish and Romanian ranges has yet to be released, it is likely to work out cheaper than the furniture range. With items including an “SCR Sofa” at £2,700, a “Radcliffe Writing Desk” at £1,700 and a “Bodleian Bookcase” at £3,800, it seems reaching the masses was certainly not always at the top of the agenda.