KC Printing & Allied Works – textbook suppliers to several state-government institutions

The Thriving Printing Hub of Mathura

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Founded by KC Agarwal, Mathura-based KC Printing and Allied Works, entered the printing business in 1979. Over the past 49 years, KC Printing has served to its diverse portfolio of customers through the length and breadth of the country. Currently, the company majorly prints textbooks for private publishers as well as for government institutions.

The company prints and supplies textbooks for the states of Tripura, Bihar, Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. Apart from text books, the company also prints answer booklets for state board schools and universities. It prints and supplies answer scripts for the Board of Secondary Education, Jharkhand Academic Council, Bihar School Education Board and Punjab Secondary Education Board.

KC Printing signed a deal with the Rajasthan state government for printing and supplying text books and answer scripts for the next academic year, i.e. 2019-20 recently. Last year, the company was serving to schools and colleges in 28 out of the 32 districts in Rajasthan whereas, this time, the company has bagged orders for printing and supplying to all the 32 districts of the state.

“The problem lies in delivery. With state government contracts, you need to supply the text books and answer scripts to every school and college located in the state. If we consider the total number of schools in Rajasthan, the count exceeds 5500. So, printing text books and answer scripts in such huge numbers and then sending them across to different locations puts us in turmoil. The overall process becomes tedious. State government contracts do not pay us in advance. We are left with no other option but to bear the costs of shipments including all the consumables,” says Mahesh Chand Agrawal, proprietor of KC Printing & Allied Works. Similarly, the company provides text books and printed answer scripts to state government schools of Bihar and Jharkhand.

KC bought its first printing press, a Solna in 1992. Ever since then, the demand kept increasing and the company kept adding machines to its unit. Currently, the company has a total of 6 web offset printing machines, all from Prakash Offset – an Indian web-offset press manufacturer from Faridabad. Of the six presses owned by KC Printing, four are 4-color web offset presses and two are 2 X 2 web offset presses. It even owns a Line-O-Matic BOLT RB104, a fully automatic exercise book printing machine.

“The printing scenario in Mathura is quite good. There is a lot of scope for established printers to grow their business. The main reason is that we get demand from all parts of the country. Mathura is known to be a major supplier of academic books to most of the government run institutions across the country. Another factor responsible for this is the labor cost. Labor cost in Mathura is very cheap. Most of the family run businesses in the city do not believe in hiring people for positions in the top management. We believe we’re potent enough to handle our business on our own. We cut costs there, these little cost-cuttings reap dividends in the long run,” Agrawal concludes.

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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