Kaira makes repeat investments in Konica Minolta presses

Digital print margins squeezed in Bhopal

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NK Sitlani, owner of Kaira Color Print. Photos IPP

NK Sitlani, a printer for 40 years, set up Kaira Color Print 22 years ago. Initially Sitlani joined his father’s printing business. Right from the start Kaira Color Print was a digital print business which Sitlani decided to expand in 2009, with a Konica Minolta c252 digital production press. He also purchased inkjet printers from HP and Oce. Subsequently, he purchased Konica Minolta c6501, c6000, c1085 and c2070 digital presses, by sequentially replacing the older model with the newly available one. Kaira currently uses three Konica Minolta digital presses – the c3080, c1085 and c458 digital production presses.

Konica Minolta AccurioPress c3080 at Kaira Color Print in Bhopal.
Konica Minolta AccurioPress c3080 at Kaira Color Print in Bhopal.

“The demand is fine but the margins have decreased. Printing is slowly turning into a cost-sensitive market. Printers in Bhopal are reducing the margins by a rupee or two per print to attract more customers. Some of these printers in the market have completely disrupted the market and shattered the hopes of many others by offering services at extremely cheap rates,” says Sitlani. Moreover, he adds that the last financial year wasn’t very profitable for the company and they will focus on growing business in FY 2019-20.
“We do have a positive reputation in the market and are associated with many of our customers for many years who believe in the quality we supply. We are knowledgable and that helps us gain an edge over the others. Many of our trusted customers do not worry much about a marginal difference in price and are pretty happy to pay more for good quality work,” says Sitlani.

The company doesn’t take up any value addition for its digital print. Sitlani asserts that Bhopal is not yet a mature market for value-added printing. Not many people are aware or know about the possibilities and hence have few requirements for it. On the postpress and finishing side, Kaira has a thermal laminator, while the cutting machine is being replaced with a new one. “I have not installed much postpress equipment because I don’t want to employ more people for this job. Postpress is laborious. However, in the future, I will try to look into the postpress side a bit more,” says Sitlani.

Explaining his repeated and serial investments in Konica Minolta digital presses, Sitlani says, “I have had a good experience with the KM team. Most of the other brands haven’t stationed their engineers locally, which is a big problem for us printers. KM’s service engineers reach in hours and the fault in the press is generally quickly taken care of. Moreover, the Konica Minolta print quality is unmatched. That is the reason why they have a major market share.” He adds that all the presses purchased from KM are under fasma contracts.

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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