“We do not sell inks, we market them”

says VK Seth, managing director – Sakata Inx (India) Pvt Ltd, in conversation with P&P editors SK Khurana and Varsha Verma.

Sakata Inx (India) Limited currently manufactures all types ofliquid printing inks for gravure and flexographic printing process; offset inks for sheet fed and web offset printing and accessories; and UV varnishes & UV flexo inks & UV sheet fed inks.

On Indian market…

Talking about the present economic situation in India, Seth opined that the economy is still struggling and consumption is still slow. There is a mere 2-3 percent growth in the FMCG segment that too due to growth in the unorganised sector. “Sakata enjoys 40-45 percent share in the food grade sector like Coke, Pepsi, Nestle, P&G, ITC, Britannia, etc. Sakata India has a 23-24 percent share in the flexible packaging,” he added.

On newspapers…

“In India, the success of any product depends upon placing it at the right price point. For example, take the case of newspapers, it is available at the lowest price globally, targeted at the lower middle class segment. This is why newspaper market is growing in India, while it is declining elsewhere,” shared Seth.

Besides, the Indian model for newspapers works on advertising model and not on cover price. “Hence, production cost is very subsidised and so they look for cost-effective production solutions for the same,” he added.

Seth also mentioned the ‘Luce’ ink for newspapers, which is widely popular in Japan. Even in India some of the companies have started using similar products. Sakata Inx was started as a newspaper ink manufacturer, way back in 1896.

Challenges…

India is a price-sensitive market and in spite of inks being just 3-4 percent of production cost, printers are not willing to go for solutions, which are 5-10 percent more expensive than cheaper versions. “The concept of ‘acceptable quality’ prevails in India. This is followed in pursuit of grabbing maximum market share in the growing economy of India,” shared Seth.

But it’s changing gradually. “We don’t sell inks, but market it. We are closely working with some companies in terms of giving value to them. Earlier, people worked on the 4P’s of marketing (product, place, price, promotion) but now they are talking about SAVE, which refers to (solution, access, value and education). Customers are no longer talking about basic price. The standard format of costing is changing, taking into account the concept of productivity, mileage, bond strength, graphics and value. Customers now demand service, technical solutions and process costs. They are realising that they can save money in the long run,” he added.

On distribution…

Sakata Inx (India) has their regional offices in Mumbai and Hyderabad and resident engineers in cities like Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, etc. “We also have around 30-35 exclusive dealers for gravure and 150 for offset inks. Of the offset ink dealers, 30 percent are exclusive dealers for Sakata,” told Seth.

On exports…

Sakata Inx (India) has the largest territory for exports than any other Sakata Inx company. “Almost 17-18 percent of our revenue comes from exports and we are targeting to increase it to 25 percent. We not only export to neighboring countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh but also cater to Middle East, Dubai, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, to name a few. We have dealers/distributors for exports, besides a few direct customers,” told Seth proudly.

So, what is the quality of these products? “The quality remains as Sakata standard, but products are produced as per the particular market demands. We first map the market and then place out products,” answered Seth as a matter of fact.

Our USPs…

On asking about their mantra for success, Seth replied that they continuously invest in education for their staff, aimed at technical training and enhancing their skills. “We have a unique ‘Learning & sharing’ program, where it is mandatory for each employee to deliver three formal lectures on their subject of expertise. This way, they can share their knowledge and expertise with others,” he said.

Expansion plans…

On asking about their expansion plans in India, Seth replied that they would be focusing on offset inks for the next 2-3 years. “Our ink plant in Panoli (Gujarat), has a capacity to produce 7,000 tonnes of coldest ink every year. We are planning to double this capacity in Panoli by next financial year. Besides, we produce 3,000 tons of Coldset ink per year in our Bhiwadi (Rajasthan) unit. All products put together, we produce 26,000 tons of ink per annum. We also plan to expand the capacity to produce sheet-fed inks in Panoli as well,” told Seth.

“We have crossed Rs 500 CR mark in the last financial year and are expecting a growth of 17-18 percent this year,” concluded Seth on a happy note.

VK Seth, managing director – Sakata Inx (India) Pvt Ltd has recently been assigned with an additional responsibility and be on the International Advisory Board at Sakata Inx Corporation, Japan. The advisory board is a think tank for all international operations to grow organically or inorganically. There are five members on the board, including one from America and three being the senior most management members at Sakata Japan. This is because after Japan and America, Indian office is the third largest contributor to the group.

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