Pune’s Unique Offset strengthens digital capabilities with two Canon printers

More focus on the digital operations going forward

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Mandar Thakurdesai and Nandkumar Navale of Unique Offset with the Canon printers
Mandar Thakurdesai and Nandkumar Navale of Unique Offset with the Canon printers

One of Pune’s leading printers, Unique Offset, has strengthened its digital printing capabilities by installing two brand new presses, one color and one black and white, from Canon. An established name in the printing business in Pune, Unique Offset has been catering to offset printing requirements from visiting cards to flyers to annual reports for close to two decades. It entered the digital printing space in 2014, by bringing in a brand new Ricoh Pro c651ex. The two Canon presses will now replace the Ricoh.

“We used the Ricoh machine for five years, and earlier this year, we thought it was time to go for a replacement and strengthen our digital operations. We did not focus a lot on our digital division over these years, but now the market environment has changed, and we feel our digital printing operations can become an important part of our overall business. That is why we bought a color and a black & white press together,” says Mandar Thakurdesai, one of the partners in the company.

Unique Offset has installed the Canon ImagePRESS C650 color printer, which prints 65 pages per minute and a Canon imageRUNNER Advance 8585 black & white printer, which has a print speed of 85 pages per minute. Both the presses were installed in April this year. These digital printers will complement the two offset presses, Komori Spica 246, installed in 2007, and Komori Lithrone S40, installed in 2010.

Thakurdesai says that during the last five years, Unique was using the digital technology to create samples and dummies for its offset customers and was not thinking on the lines of using this technology to create a separate line of business.

“When we bought the Ricoh, we wanted to use it to cater to the short-run demands of our current offset customers as they were going to a third party for that. Now we realize that with digital technology, we can service a different set of customers as well. In the past few years, we have seen a lot of customers emerge who do not want large print quantities,” Thakurdesai shares.

Nandkumar Navale, the second partner in the firm, says that many publishers now do not want to print large quantities of books or novels as they want to optimize their cost and keep their inventories as low as possible. “There are publishers who want an initial run of just 50 copies. In such a scenario of print of demand, the digital technology comes in handy,” Navale says.

Slowdown apparent in Pune printing market

The downturn in the overall economy is having an impact on the printing market as well, and Pune is not unaffected. The print orders for promotional items for real estate and automobiles sectors have seen a sharp drop, Thakurdesai says.

“We have seen a significant drop in print volumes; this has been going on for nearly a year and has accelerated in recent months. Print orders for promotional items, especially from customers in the automobiles and real estate sectors, have dropped sharply as they cut on their advertising budgets,” Thakurdesai says.

Navale says that the excess capacity in Pune’s print market is exacerbating the situation. “We have seen the entry of a lot of printers in the last five years, which has created huge capacities in the market. Now, with the economy slowing down and print volumes dropping, the situation has become tough,” he says.

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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