Excitement for Pamex – 18 to 21 December in Mumbai

Eknath Pingulkar

We have seen visitor promotions before, but no effort has ever been made to bring visitors to a printing exhibition like the one by the All Indian Federation of Master Printers (AIFMP) over the past three months. Across the length and breadth of India, the AIFMP and Pamex organizing team have held meetings in more than 50 cities and towns—more than 20 in Maharashtra and Western India; more than a dozen in the South; and, another 20 in the Eastern and Northern parts of the country. The affiliates of the AIFMP in every region have helped to organize meetings of their members to greet the Pamex team and to listen to presentations about the industry, its future and about what is going to be shown at the exhibition next week.

Tushar Dhote has been at most, if not all, of the 50 meetings and he acknowledges that the industry has been under pressure over the past year—largely resulting from demonetization and the institution of GST but he thinks the economy is slowly coming back on track and getting ready for a year of growth. Over the telephone, Dhote tells me that the small printers around the country are not as affected by the changes since their day-to-day costs are relatively in control and the big printers generally have the stamina to withstand downturns. “However, it is the middle level printers who have made investments that require high ROIs who are in the greatest pain,” he says.

In his recent travels across the country, Dhote has been put willy nilly in the position of a print evangelist. This is a position he accepts and everywhere his advocacy has been for printing something special, for adding value, asking printers to find a niche—to provide a product or service that requires imagination and creativity—a new business model for print. At the same time he has encountered some of the most interesting and innovative printers in his travels—from those who have turned special invitation cards into a business; printers of talking books and consolidators of printing who have built networks for all the variable print that is required in a particular region.

The last Pamex two years ago had 22,000 visitors and approximately 40,000 visits. On prompting, Dhote predicts that the event next week will attract anywhere from 30,000 to 35,000 visitors and as many as 50,000 to 60,000 visits. “Perhaps even more,” he says. “There is very strong interest in prepress, postpress and converting technology at Pamex from printers around the country. Although GST has played its part in inhibiting some of the global companies that had originally booked larger space at the show, many other exhibitors including TechNova, Xerox, Canon and Suba Solutions have increased their floor area at Pamex.”

The NPES- and BMPA-organized Print Business Conference on 16 December 2017 at the Lalit Hotel in Mumbai is also filling up. Although there are still some seats left, the last minute deciders should sign up before it is too late.

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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