Diversify with innovations to lead

How can you take the lead in the ever competitive sector of printing material consumables and printing equipment supply? Here Smita Dwivedi (SD) in conversation with leading experts - Sanjeev Popli (Popli Graphics (P) Ltd) Vimlesh Arora (JN Arora and Co (P) Ltd) and Ranesh Bajaj (Creed Engineers) present you with their overview about the changing trends and developments in this industry. Excerpts. A clear overview and an insight into industry trends can help suppliers and manufacturers to survive the fierce competition. Here, we bring in views of three leading experts from the industry:

SD: Please share something unique about your organisation and introduce yourself to our readers?

Sanjeev Popli: We are small fish in big ocean but we are proud of being one company dealing in multiple print technologies. We represent the leading manufacturers and distribute world class print material/equipments. But as per our policy, we sell only those products in which we are well versed with technology and usage and are proud to serve under one umbrella. Dealing in multiple technologies, helps us to guide our customers to use appropriate product for their specific job.

Vimlesh Arora: We had started our business more than 50 years ago. Since then, we have expanded our operations of marketing printing consumables both in terms of geographical coverage as well as the range of products being sold now. We have a network of five own locations in Delhi namely in, Chawri Bazar, Okhla, Patparganj, Naraina, Bawana; and one each in Noida, Sahibabad, UP, Ludhiana, Punjab and a network of dealers throughout India. Our product range includes all kinds of consumables used in offset, flexographic, security, screen, textile, digital sublimation printing and a range of adhesives and special tapes for many industries including printing, publication, advertisement and promotions, automotive, etc.

Ranesh Bajaj: We continue to offer cutting edge solutions to the market to help printers diversify as economically and as futuristically as possible in order to retain or geo the bottom lines of their organizations. Our recent foray into manufacturing label finishing equipment in India continues to bring reasonable success and we intend to expand our footprint in that sector.

SD: What are the major emerging trends in the printing industry?

Sanjeev Popli: Major trends what we see is to focus on maximizing productivity from existing set up by investing in finishing equipments/ operations. Its race against time now-a-days, we need to deliver job ASAP.

Vimlesh Arora: One of the most clear emerging trends is decline in commercial printing and rise in digital printing. In offset printing, labels and packaging is showing steady growth. Children books segment is also growing rapidly. Thankfully, even after emergence of so many electronic and internet gadgets and devices, newspaper is still growing in India, in terms of printing.

Ranesh Bajaj: Labels and packaging continue to grow at a healthy rate. Commercial print is moving to either digital or electronic. Books are still stable but the medium to long term outlook is towards electronic. Consolidation and diversification are keys for everybody.

SD: How has been the growth of CtP in last five years?

Sanjeev Popli: CtP has really been a boon to printers to achieve tighter deadlines. CtP is growing and will see next boom as people who have invested 4/5 years back have to upgrade/ replace with new addition and of course there is still conversion in smaller districts. The consumption has increased but there has been variation in customer choices. First we saw surge in thermal CtP installation 5 years back and then there was demand of Voilet CtPs but last year we saw surge in demand in CtCP. So the plate consumption has increased in all the segments.

With the addition of CtP plates being used in machines, it also created awareness in printers to use quality factory made chemicals and customers could realize the advantages of maintaining the press by using quality of inputs such as ink, fountain solutions, washes etc.

Vimlesh Arora: Definitely, there is growth in CtP and plate consumption and there’s increase in demand in printing consumables as well. But due to direct approach of international suppliers to the buyers, we have not been able to take maximum advantage.

Ranesh Bajaj: Our experience with CtP in India continues to be difficult. With the local printers opting to support the domestic industry and re-introducing the anti dumping duty on both digital and analogue plates, it is not possible for importers to survive in this market.

SD: Has the currency fluctuations affected your business during last year? Have you overcome the effect by now?

Sanjeev Popli: Last year was really a nightmare, we had fluctuations in every quarter and it was really an irritating factor but we have overcome it with being transparent with our customers and helping them to prepare and plan their purchases so they did not get jolts. This also helped them to plan accordingly for their jobs in hand.

Vimlesh Arora: It has not affected us as a trader, but yes bottom line struggled a lot to overcome this. I don’t think any of the manufacturers was able to transfer the complete cost to the consumers. It was a tough situation for every printer, and importer in particular, and has impacted entire printing industry in general.

Ranesh Bajaj: The sudden depreciation had hit the market badly, especially for printers who had imported high value capital equipment with deferred payment terms. The saving in lower overseas interest rates have been more than wiped out with the depreciation of the rupee and in many cases caused an additional loss. For printers who were planning to order equipment, the ROI calculations needed to be reworked, based on the increased landed cost.

SD: Are new entrepreneurs entering in print industry?

Sanjeev Popli: More than new entrepreneurs we see next generation of existing customers coming in forefront who are more organized, rational and well informed about new technologies.

Vimlesh Arora: Very few, almost negligible. Now, even veterans of the industry are not encouraging youth to join this industry. The profits margins are very less these days, so it won’t be possible for new entrants to flourish in the market. There is second and third generation entrepreneurs, who are joining our industry, but there number is also few.

Ranesh Bajaj: Being a service industry with a reasonably high entry barrier especially for the growth areas, we have not seen many new entrants. In fact, consolidation has been the name of the game. The addition has been in the digital print segment only.

SD: Across India, many commercial printers are currently contemplating diversification. Comment.

Sanjeev Popli: Commercial printers are facing very difficult times with advent of digital technology. Sustainability is the issue and value addition is only saviour. Relying only on offset or digital will not only help. Printers have to invest in multiple technologies along with systems/ value addition to deliver. Any one avoiding above will feel pinch.

Vimlesh Arora: Yes, there is a wave of diversification amongst Indian printers. And it’s really strange to see commercial printers diversifying into label printing; label printers trying packaging and cartons and again there are some who are diversifying into digital and commercial printing.

Ranesh Bajaj: I would say 100 percent. Those who are not thinking of diversifying are thinking of quitting the print business, I think.

SD: What are the challenges being faced in distribution?

Sanjeev Popli: It’s a very responsible job. Customers are moving to ‘Just what’s required’ inventory and rely on vendors to deliver at lightning speeds. The material such as plates/chemicals, UV inks, coatings etc are all light and heat sensitive; therefore they need to be carefully handled, stored and delivered as per manufacturer instructions plus safety is the issue. So we don’t rely on third party services and have our own vehicles for distribution. Inventory management at vendor level is a serious business. But the biggest challenge/hurdle in goods movement is business taxation laws (multiple taxation/ movement of goods in interstate/road permits etc).

Vimlesh Arora: One of the major challenges now is that most of the major multinational companies are directly approaching the companies, which is a biggest threat to the distribution channel in India. Companies like Kodak, FujiFilm and Sericol are serving customers directly in India.

Ranesh Bajaj: High real estate, high labour costs, delayed payment cycles and bad payments are the major challenges.

SD: Any message to the printers…

Sanjeev Popli: Focus on Bottlenecks!

Vimlesh Arora: Try to remain afloat in this testing time.

Ranesh Bajaj: Innovate and survive. These are tough times as the economy is struggling and only the fittest will survive this phase of business.

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