Mailroom – A significant revenue generating department for newspapers

Mailroom – A significant revenue generating department for newspapers
L-R: SK Gandotra and Rajeev Gandotra of Technicon with the paper under wrapping machine

The newspaper industry, especially the English language space, has been struggling with stagnant circulation for the last few years amid rising popularity of digital media. Late last year, demonetization dealt another blow to newspaper advertising revenues as businesses slowed down considerably during November and December 2016. Although regional newspapers have been registering decent growth, they were not left unaffected by the government’s sudden decision to withdraw high denomination currency from circulation. Amid this cacophony, there is now a prominent view that the newspaper industry in India will undergo a prolonged period of stagnancy and declining revenues.

Rajiv Gandotra, founder of Technicon India, however, looks positive about the long-term growth of the newspaper industry under the new GST regime and says that players in the industry will find new and innovative ways to boost revenues. Technicon is India’s leading manufacturer of machines such as inserters, overhead newspaper conveyors, counter stackers, under wrappers, plastic bundle wrappers, online sheet under layers, van loading telescopic loaders, flow turns and log stackers. Technicon began its operation with Malayala Manorama as its first customer. With more than a decade of evolution and growth, the company now has all major newspaper names in its long list of customers. Technicon has supplied its machines to The Hindustan Times, The Times of India, DNA, Dainik Bhaskar, and Jagran, to name just a few. Almost 90% of Technicon’s customers are regional dailies.

Mailroom as revenue center
In the present environment, newspapers are under tremendous pressure to generate greater revenue and reduce costs. In India, the mailrooms operations such as supplement insertion are still dominated by physical laborers performing the jobs. Gandotra says that for mailrooms to become a revenue generating department, newspapers will have to keep on automating.

If newspapers have to boost their revenues and carry more advertisements, either they will have to increase pages, which according to Gandotra is not an easy job, or they will have to print more supplements or inserts during the day time.

“If supplements go up, more automation will be needed to control costs. I feel given these circumstances, the mailroom operations are about to blossom,” he says. Newspapers will also have to execute innovative advertising ideas such as inserting pouches, stick-ons, special inserts, etc. For all this to happen, automation in mailroom will be needed, he argues.

Given these factors, Gandotra believes the company’s TechInsert360 mailroom inserter will be a big success in the market. Launched a couple of years ago, TechInsert360 has a maximum speed of 36,000 copies per hour. Some other salient features of the inserter include online and offline operation facility, double copy detection and extraction in jacket feeder, missed copy compensation program, extra copy extraction in all feeders, etc.

More success
Last year Technicon developed a new craft paper under wrapper for Tamil daily Dinamalar and has bagged a contract to supply seven machines. The 3-side under wrapper was developed since Dinamalar wanted an environment-friendly solution to replace plastic wrapping. The company has tasted more success with the craft paper under wrapper as another South Indian daily, Kerala’s Malayala Manorama, has placed an order for 40 machines.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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