Sheth Printograph – from machine exports to turnkey projects

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Sheth Printograph
Neeraj Sheth and Sonal Sheth

Established in the year 1963, Sheth Printograph initially traded in letterpress printing equipment. Subsequently, the company manufactured and exported print finishing, packaging and paper converting machines. Today, its customers span over 40 countries in South East Asia, Middle East, Latin America, Africa, Australia and the Indian subcontinent. The company remained largely unaffected by the new GST regime and has already signed up to participate in PrintPack at Greater Noida in February 2019.

A specialist in postpress machines such as laminators, diecutters, folder gluers, board-to-board pasting and embossing machines, Sheth began by producing hand feed machines, graduating to semi-automatic and then fully automatic machines. Sonal Sheth, director of Sheth Printograph, says hers is the only company in India that manufactures hot-knife cutters and automatic lamination machines. The company has invested in R&D and after careful examination of several parameters including cost to the end user, launches its products.

The first country to which Sheth’s machines were exported was Bangladesh – initially at a rate of a machine each week. Slowly, exports grew to Sri Lanka, China and South East Asia. China was not an open economy at that time and Sheth Printograph got a chance to explore the Chinese market. When the economic growth bubble of the South East Asian economies burst, the company shifted its focus to the Middle East, covering Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Iran and Bahrain. Soon after, on observing upcoming projects in Africa and adjoining countries, Sheth Printograph decided to explore the African market as well. In Africa, the company executes turnkey projects for its clients, right from sourcing raw materials to supplying machinery, manpower, installation and training.

“Over the years, Chinese have managed to penetrate the market worldwide. Initially, we were offering machines at affordable prices to a range of customers throughout the world. We had an upper hand because the only countries offering good quality machines back in those days were of European origin and their machines were costly. We got an opportunity to target a set of clients and offer machines according to their requirements at comparatively affordable rates,” says Sheth.

In India, the company has educated players in the new photo digital printing segment. Almost all the Indigo, Konica Minolta and Xerox customers in the country use its machines. “In India, the market is evolving. A commercial printer is getting into packaging, someone operating in the packaging segment is diversifying into digital printing as well for commercial purposes or small runs. For instance, there is a customer who is in book printing and who has been a hardcore commercial offset printer but now, since the volume of books has reduced, he has ventured into digital. Just like that, metpet lamination came into the picture so there was a demand for a hot knife cutting system and we offered it. All in all, I think it is important to keep evolving with the market,” Sheth adds.

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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