Printo plans 20 stores in North India in five years

Printo acquires 100% of Print Bazaar

A Printo store front

The Indian print industry is highly unorganized and businesses are mostly family   owned. Due to the fragmented nature of the industry, it lacks the scale to optimize the efficiencies in operations. Therefore, the recent acquisition of NCR-focused Print Bazaar by Bengaluru-based quick print chain Printo is significant as it points to that fact that some players in the industry are now focusing on economies of scale as the industry gradually strives to get more organized and professional, signaling growth in consumption-led demand.

“The acquisition will help us achieve the economy of scale and be part of a platform that serves customers at a pan-India level. It will help us grow in larger geographies. Large corporates want a single supplier. National presence will help us cater to the needs of both SMEs and these large corporate,” says Manish, Sharma, co-founder and chairman, Printo.

The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed but Economic Times, citing sources, reported that the deal values Print Bazaar at around Rs. 8-10 crore. Print Bazaar has built a strong retail brand in New Delhi and Gurugram while Printo currently dominates the markets in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai. This acquisition will help Printo deliver print solutions to its customers in a territory which it hitherto served only remotely via its website.

“With Print Bazaar, Printo is finally a national retail brand,” says Sharma.

For Sanjeev Malhotra, the deal marks his fourth exit. A serial entrepreneur, Malhotra is the chief executive of Alia Group, the parent company of Print Bazaar. He says, “Collaboration is the new competitive advantage. It is very clear you cannot do without it. We had a strong footprint in the northern region while Printo had a strong presence in the southern region. So, it was natural for us to look at the alliance to get the competitive advantage.”

Malhotra believes coming together of Printo and Print Bazaar will generate obvious synergies in the form of stronger purchasing power, bigger brand, better processes, better pricing for consumers, and professional print services to name a few.

At least 20 stores in North India

Printo is creating India’s largest print network with a presence in six cities, through a combination of 30 stores and regional hubs spread across six cities. In the near future, Printo would be investing Rs 10 crore, primarily for setting up a North India production facility (which is called the hub in Printo) and the rest in setting up company-owned stores.

“Our large customers have nudged us towards delivering at a national level and we owe this ambitious growth partly to them and partly to our team, which seems ever ready to take up challenges of growth. We are still a small company but we believe we are laying the foundation for becoming India’s largest consumer and business print brand,” shares Sharma.

Printo would be using the NCR region as a base to expand into the rest of North India, just as it has done in the southern part of the country. In the next five years, Sharma sees at least 20 stores in North India.

Asked if the print industry would see more consolidation going forward, Sharma says that the print industry is facing an excess capacity problem so consolidation will only happen if one has a good customer base. “For the typical printer too, it makes sense to run the business and generate cash from the business through business expenses rather than be acquired at a low multiple. I feel consolidation is a reflection of how mature an economy is. In India, we have a long way to go as there is enough inefficiency, which incentivizes businesses to be small, rather than large. A consolidator, or acquirer, is either looking for customer base or production capability.”

Omni channel is real for Printo

Printo has always been significantly digital inside, with all stores connected to a central hub and real-time monitoring of jobs. It is now investing in enhancing its mobile and web capabilities since a large number of existing customers place orders online and pick up at stores at their convenience. Omni channel is real for Printo and integrating the customer experience across channels is key, argues Sharma.

For example, Printo’s customers can order via a mobile app or the website and pick up at a store the same day or have it delivered to their office or home. This is a rapidly changing environment which Printo is leveraging.

A consumption-led industry

According to Sharma, in all emerging markets print and retail print are growing at double digits. This is a consumption-led industry and with increasing consumerism retail print is booming. On the business front, SMEs, individual consultants, start-ups and free agents are driving this growth. On the consumer side, the desire to share and celebrate memories (thanks to the explosion in photos and social media) is pushing photo products as a category. Internationally funded players like VistaPrint and PrintVenue are good examples.

“Printo believes that big growth lies in combining instant gratification with omni-channel,” Sharma concludes.

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

Subscribe Now


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here