Marks Print invests in a Bobst Gidue 8-color flexo press

Commercial printers turn to labels and packaging

Dhirendra Rawat of Marks Prints

Marks Print in Indore started up in 2006 with an investment of Rs 10 lakhs in a rented space. With support from financial bodies, Dhirendra Rawat managed to buy a second-hand 5-color Heidelberg press in the first year. The company took on commercial print work for advertising agencies, telecom and newspaper companies. Dainik Bhaskar is one customer for Marks Print among many in and around Indore. The company provides all kinds of booklets and pamphlets that are inserted and distributed along with the Dainik Bhaskar daily and other local newspapers.

Apart from the 5-color press, the company now also owns a 4-color Heidelberg offset press. “Though the machines are second-hand, we prefer to stick to Heidelberg. The main reason behind this is the performance and longevity of the machine. We have been running both the presses successfully and haven’t encountered any hiccups over the years. Also, the service support from Heidelberg India has been phenomenal. We’re also using a Stahl folder and Polar cutting machine that are also serviced by Heidelberg India,” Rawat says. “As you know, we started with a very small investment and limited resources. I began this business in a rented accommodation and over the years managed to earn enough for us to move to a 10,000 square foot self-owned building. All in all, the journey so far has been successful and fruitful.”

Diversification to label printing

Working for a limited set of clients and targeting niche segments, the printer plans to look out for wider markets and has started diversifying to the label and packaging segment. Marks Prints recently imported an 8-color Bobst Gidue UV narrow web flexo lable printing press. Recently installed and commissioned, the company is currently doing trial label runs.

In order to complement the narrow web flexo label press, Marks has imported some ancillary equipment manufactured in China including an offline die-cutting machine and a slitter rewinder from BST eltromat. Planing to install quality inspection cameras on its equipment the company is currently looking at various options available in the market. “Investment in our flexo machine was done in order to enhance our printing abilities. The offset and flexo machines would compliment each other and will enable us to offer a variety of print and label products to a wider segment of customers. We will now try to generate new clients through the flexo to whom we will offer offset jobs as well,” Rawat adds. “The major concern for us printers at the moment is the fluctuation in paper prices. The paper that was being imported from China at cheap rates has now stopped. India as we all know, isn’t self-sufficient in paper. The drastic demand and supply gap has affected paper prices and it would be better if the government intervenes.”

According to Rawat, packaging in India is growing. “The labels segment has witnessed a significant growth as well but commercial printing has become stagnant. In fact, I’d say that the demand is decreasing day-by-day. People who were in both commercial printing and packaging have now stopped doing commercial printing work and have moved to packaging because there is no day-to-day pressure of completing a set of jobs and delivering it to the customer. Once you plan your job, you’re done for a week or for a month but with commercial printing, you have to plan for each job separately and the margins are also not high.”

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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