Offset printers should enhance cooperation among themselves

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Offset printers should enhance cooperation among themselves
SRK’s chief marketing officer Kalpesh Mehta

For more than three decades, Borivali-headquartered SRK Creative has been a dominant player in the photo album market of Mumbai. Diversifying from digital technology, in 2013, SRK installed a refurbished Komori 528 five-color plus coater. In 2016, it further strengthened the offset printing department by investing in a brand-new Komori Lithrone A37, which was placed at SRK’s Bhyander plant along with the older Komori. With offset printing capabilities in-house, SRK started taking book printing jobs—a line of business that has seen robust growth.

“The main reason for expanding and strengthening the offset printing department was that the quality of our offset outsourced work was not up to the mark. We wanted much greater control of the work,” says SRK’s chief marketing officer Kalpesh Mehta. Currently, SRK is printing educational books and other commercial offset jobs.

Cooperation should be the strategy
Although SRK’s offset division has done well in recent years, Mehta feels that the business conditions presently prevailing in the market need a different approach from the printing industry.

“In the last two years there has been a severe competition in the offset printing industry on the price front, which has put a huge pressure on the rate of return on our investments. There has been almost a 20% reduction in price realization across board. This unhealthy competition is because there is huge overcapacity in the industry as printers have invested aggressively in printing machines,” Mehta says.

One of the remedies that Mehta offers is that of greater cooperation among printers. “I feel there is enough capacity in the offset industry for printers to come together and have a tie-up where they can complement each other. I think under the current market conditions, printers should carefully weigh all pros and cons before investing in a new press. Complementing each other is the best strategy now.”

However, he points out that for this strategy to be successful, it is important that all the printers are on the same page when it comes to parameters such as quality, service, delivery time, etc.

Working with smaller digital printers
The strategy of cooperation that Mehta talks about for offset printers is already being implemented by SRK in the digital printing space. Plenty of solutions that SRK offers cannot be provided by smaller printers due to lack of technology. Mehta is now talking to these small printers and discussing ways in which they can work together with SRK to offer a wider gamut of solutions to their customers.

“We are meeting multiple printers on a daily basis and educating them on how both SRK and they can benefit by working together. We have the expertise to offer many solutions which these printers cannot. By working together, they can offer more solutions to their customers and we can get jobs which will help utilize our capacities. Also, we are assuring them that we will never approach their customers directly,” Mehta shares.

Expanding dealer network beyond Maharashtra
Mumbai is the main market for SRK but in 2015, it set foot outside and set up its first branch in Pune. Now, the city has four branches with Swargate branch, which was the first to open, acting as the hub with HP Indigo 3550 in operation. The other three branches are in Hadapsar, Pimpri and Talegaon. Currently, the Pune branches are dedicated only to the wedding album segment.

Asked if similar Pune-type models will be replicated in other cities, Mehta says that although it is not likely to happen in near future but a lot of stress in being laid on expanding the dealer network. At present, SRK has dealers in Central India and South India in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

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