Fourth quarter should see revival in the print and packaging sector

Peter Rego interview

Peter Rego of Heidelberg India
Peter Rego of Heidelberg India

The Indian commercial printing and packaging printing market is facing some challenges but those who want to move forward are doing so, and with the government showing intent to make things better for business, things are already showing signs of improvement, Peter Rego, head of sales at Heidelberg India told Indian Printer and Publisher.

“We feel the fourth quarter of calendar year 2019 will see the market reviving and the first quarter of calendar year 2020 will be the take-off period. There will be volatility and disruptions for sure, but those having a fool-proof business plan will reap a rich harvest in the coming quarters,” Rego said.

Looking at the calendar year 2019, Rego said that the PrintPack exhibition in the first quarter was good for business, which went according to plan. A slowdown in the second quarter was due to elections and uncertainty in the market. However, the third quarter has seen a pickup and things are back on track as per projections for the year, he argued.

Heidelberg India has been constantly interacting with customers and assessing the situation on the economy as well as the printing and packaging industry; according to Rego, there are customers at both ends of the spectrum.

“There are some who feel that there is a slowdown while at the other end there are customers who are going in for big projects and feel that the market and business are getting better. So, honestly, it is quite confusing to give a sure shot answer here. Packaging, of course, has a better potential for growth due to various reasons known to all, but having said that, we see commercial printers too who are quite positive and moving ahead with their projects. So, it depends on perspective and how one sees it, whether the glass is half full or half empty,” Rego said.

Talking about Heidelberg India’s performance during the year, Rego said that in line with the trend seen over the years, a lot of equipment sales happen in the first quarter of the calendar year, then there is a slowdown in the second quarter and it starts picking up in the third quarter. “This year is no different. There could be some turbulence for give or take a month, but overall there is growth potential in the industry. Collections can be a different story, but as far as business, those with a plan are moving forward,” he said.

Rego stressed that both commercial printing and packaging printing can deliver good growth if the customer is focused, concentrates on strengths and innovations, and keeps an eye on the bottom-line and collections. He further added that by the end of the year Heidelberg will close more units as compared to last year, provided there are no major hiccups in the government policies in the next six months.

When asked about new solutions from the company expected in the coming months, Rego said that at Heidelberg innovations are happening throughout the year. “Having said that, we will know more about new products once we get closer to drupe, which is happening from 15-20 June 2020,” he concluded.

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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