GK Printers optimistic about its commercial business

Passionate Chandigarh printer aims high

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Twenty-year-old Tarun Kapoor started his career at Super Multi Color press as a field boy. After learning the printing techniques at SMC, Kapoor took to freelancing projects. Printing was a mere medium of earning money for him back in his early days but with time, he developed a huge interest in printing which became his new-found love. “Printing has grown on me so much that I ended up loving it. I have a passion of becoming the biggest printer in North India. At the age of 29, my dream right now is to buy a brand new, fully loaded and top-of-the-line Heidelberg press,” says Kapoor who has set up a new printing unit by the name GK Printers in Chandigarh.

GK has two divisions within its business – one for offset printing and the other for digital printing. The company owns a second-hand 5-color Heidelberg press, one 2-color and a single-color press. Apart from the offset presses, it also owns a brand new Xerox V180 digital press. Kapoor says that he didn’t take any loan from the bank for purchasing either the offset or the digital presses. The offset presses are run in double shifts while the digital press runs for 10 hours a day. GK has ideas about adding value to print with some of the new coatings that are available and has plans to invest in a double-color UV drip-off offset press.

Tarun Kapoor
Tarun Kapoor

Commercial printing – A profitable venture

Commenting on the decline in commercial print, Kapoor says, “I believe that commercial printing is a huge segment and it can never cease to be fruitful. One must, however, be extremely cautious and smart while operating in this segment. On the one hand, people say that commercial printing is on a decline, but I feel otherwise. I’m running my press in double shifts which clearly signifies that there is plenty of demand in the market. So much so, that the press is running for 22 hours a day.”

It has not been an easy path and there were plenty of hiccups when Kapoor started his business. His 5-color Heidelberg arrived almost six months late and then it took the technician three months to install the press and make it fully functional. All this while, Kapoor was getting restless with each passing day as he had employed an entire workforce and was paying them regularly for doing nothing.

Xerox V180 digital press
Xerox V180 digital press

Entry to monocartons requires significant capex

Kapoor does not deny his intention of entering the packaging segment at some point in the future. With a Heidelberg press, a lamination machine and a die-cutter, Kapoor says he can start monocartons right away but he doesn’t want to clutter his business at an early stage with printing and packaging without the proper equipment.

“For entering the packaging segment, I feel I should invest at least Rs. 20 crores (US$ 3 million) plus I don’t want to operate with second-hand equipment for packaging. Because that is one segment where quality is the most sought after. If and when I begin my packaging business, it will be for monocartons and with investment in the right kind of machines,” he adds. Kapoor’s intention, once he begins packaging, is to supply through eCommerce platforms.

On a monthly basis, the Heidelberg 5-color press produces between 15 and 20 lakh impressions. “You must also know that this is a 25-year-old machine. Sure, we have experienced many breakdowns but I should not complain considering the age of the press.

“A 25-year-old press is still running like a horse on a daily basis printing the quantity that it is. I must say that Heidelberg has grown on me a lot in these last two years. My next investment is also going to be a Heidelberg. It may also have to be a second-hand press as we do not have the capacity to buy a brand new one right now,” Kapoor 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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