Badlapur printers stringing to create a dynamic hub 

New technology needed to add quality and value to print

Yogesh Jadhav, secretary, Badlapur Printers’ Association
Yogesh Jadhav, secretary, Badlapur Printers’ Association

Over the last decade or so, many printing firms have shifted from the traditional printing hubs in the heart of Mumbai like Lower Parel and Byculla, to industrial areas on the periphery of the city such as Badlapur. Many factors have contributed to this shift, including lack of space, fragmented operations and the high price of real estate, among others. This shift has turned areas like Bhiwandi in the north of Mumbai into an established printing hub. While Bhiwandi has attracted a lot of large established Mumbai printers like Unik Printers and Print Plus, several first-time printers have turned to areas like Ambernath and Ulhasnagar. Badlapur is another area on the outskirts of Mumbai now developing into a printing hub.

With the rise in printing activity in the area, about four years ago, the printers founded the Badlapur Printers’ Association. A relatively new and small entity, the Badlapur Printers’ Association currently has 20 members. “The profile of our members ranges from printers who print stationery items, to those who print calendars and boxes. Komori is the most popular brand of press among the printers here,” says Yogesh Jadhav, secretary, Badlapur Printers’ Association.

Focus on value addition

Although there has been a rise in the number of print service providers in Badlapur, most are supplying ordinary print work at the lower and more competitive end of the market, with just a handful focusing on specialized projects and value addition. Unlike some of the other suburban printing hubs, there is a dearth of brand new multicolor presses and automated binding equipment. “As an association, one of the most important issues that we are facing is the quality of jobs that our members are offering. Most of them are doing run-of-the-mill, low margin work and Badlapur is still popular as a stationery printing market. Only about three or four members of our association are involved in high-margin work. For other members to switch to high margin, high quality and value-added print, they will need to buy quality machinery,” Jadhav argues. “We need to emulate the nearby printing hubs like Ulhasnagar, Ambernath and Kalyan where printers have significantly upgraded their equipment in recent years. During our recent meeting we decided that more experienced members of our association will help printers who are relatively new. This will be a knowledge sharing exercise.”

Jadhav says that Badlapur Printers’ Association is planning to collectively purchase a photobook making machine, so that members can learn about this segment of the printing business which will help them diversify into a new area.

Badlapur PA suggests 18% GST for all print products

There is now a consensus among printers that the GST has reduced a lot of paper work and brought greater transparency to print operations. However, Jadhav argues that the net tax burden under the new tax regime is on the higher side when it comes to the printing industry.

“If you look at the overall scheme of things, the printing industry has to deal with multiple GST slabs. Some items are in the 28% bracket, while others are in a lower slab. Because of the severe competition, we are unable to pass the cost to the customer and this has squeezed our margins. Our appeal to the government is that all printing activities should be in the 18% GST bracket. That will give a big boost to the printing industry,” Jadhav concludes.

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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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