S Chand continues inorganic growth

S Chand acquires 51% stake in Chetana Publications

Himanshu Gupta, managing director of S Chand. Photo News Tree Media
Himanshu Gupta, managing director of S Chand. Photo News Tree Media

One of the country’s biggest education publishers, S Chand’s board has just approved (on 9 August 2018) an investment of Rs. 58.5 crore for the acquisition of 51% in Chetana Publications. The all cash deal for a majority stake is being described as a “partnership interest.”

The board of S Chand, one of India’s larger educational publishers producing books for private schools and college and university level education, came out with an initial public offering more than a year ago. The IPO allowed one of its private equity investors to cash in on its investment. It also gave the company cash for its inorganic growth that had begun well before the IPO. S Chand reported revenues of Rs 807 crore in FY 2017-18 with the K-12 segment contributing about 80% of this.

Chetana is the fourth acquisition in recent years; earlier private books publishers acquired include Vikas Publishing House, New Saraswati House and Chhaya Prakashani. Mumbai-based Chetana Publications is also in education books as well as multimedia products and stationery with a backlist of 1000 schoolbook titles. According to a company statement, “This investment is in line with the inorganic growth strategy of S Chand to expand its share in the K12 content publishing market,” said the company. Chetana looks like a good strategic fit to help move the company into the Western region’s private school market.

Moreover, Himanshu Gupta, managing director of S Chand added, “We are glad to collaborate with Chetana Publications. This transaction will enhance our collective ability to deliver better academic outcomes and expand our reach in the west (western India) region.” Rakesh Rambhia, managing partner of Chetana Publications, said the financial support and domain expertise of S Chand will help it expand “more rapidly and broadly.”

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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