Mathura printer faces the wrath of unhealthy competition

The Thriving Printing Hub of Mathura


Mathura-based Navjyoti Press was established in 1971 by Shailendra Maheshwari. He bought two manual printing presses back in 1971. “The printing scenario back in those days was quite ripe then. A lot of printing presses were coming up. The competition was healthy as well. No one was involved in cheap printing tactics. This resulted in an increase in demand and the margins were healthy. During the 90s, printing in Mathura was at its peak. There was also unity and solidarity among the printers. There was good demand and the charges remained the same throughout the time period. We started receiving projects from the government and that could be called the standout time for printing in Mathura. Almost every printer was earning huge profits at that time,” says Maheshwari.

In the days to come, as competition grew, banks started financing the printers. This propelled many to set up their own printing units, thus resulting in an increase in the number of printing units. With more number of printing units and stagnant demand, the competition grew and the hunt to gain more customers increased. Printers started offering jobs at cheaper rates and hence the margins squeezed.

Navjyoti owns an Akiyama printing press along with a Solna, both of which were bought in the late 2000s. The company prints text books for state governments of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The company even ventured into the publishing business in 2001 for a short period. “After 4-5 years we had to shut it down. Now when  I look back, I reckon the main reason for the downfall of the publication was sheer mismanagement. We used to print children’s books and they were circulated all over Uttar Pradesh back then. We had a good start as a lot of contracts started pouring in but with time, I think we failed to cater to our customers and didn’t keep up with the demand,” Maheshwari shares.

As of now, the press operators of some of the most renowned printing presses in Mathura have started their own printing units in Mathura by taking printing presses on rent from some of the second-hand printing press suppliers and are offering jobs at rock-bottom rates.

“All in all, there’s no future for printing in Mathura. Once a ripe and healthy market, it has now stooped down to giveaways,” Maheshwari predicts.

Textbook printing, once a claim to fame for the printers of Mathura for nearly two decades, now faces the wrath of unhealthy competition, which is slowly ebbing a market full of potential and has forced many well-established printers to shut down their facilities. Most of the machines now remain shut. The cost of consumables is increasing at a steady pace and so is the cost of labor, and the printers are now finding it difficult to cope up with the losses incurred.

“Competition is always good as long as it is healthy. The moment it results in losses, one should realize that there cannot be any scope for further growth. We’re being forced to work for less. We’re doing it only with the hope of some recovery in the market,” Maheshwari 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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