Autoprint attracts huge visitors to its stand at Pamex 2020

Commercial printing in crossroads

CN Ashok, managing director of Autoprint at Pamex 2020. Photo IPP
CN Ashok, managing director of Autoprint at Pamex 2020. Photo IPP

CN Ashok, managing director of Autoprint, was happy with the footfall his stand received at Pamex 2020. Autoprint is a 25-year-old company. In its first 15 to 20 years, the company was focussing on consolidating its operations mainly in the West in Gujarat and Maharashtra and some parts of Madhya Pradesh. The company has over the years installed close to 3,000 machines in the market. In the postpress section for packaging, the company has a substantial installed base of inspection machines in Maharashtra.

“Due to the disruptive IT or digital media revolution of Whatsapp and Facebook, commercial printing is facing a testing time. Commercial printers are now in crossroads. There are only two choices they have; one is to become efficient, add value, and then consolidate the business through digital offerings or diversify to packaging either into corrugation, monocartons or labels. One cannot be a conventional commercial printer anymore and expect the business to bloom. One has to either be a commercial printer more inclined to digital by offering value-added services or a commercial printer more inclined to packaging,” says Ashok.

Autoprint stand at Pamex 2020. Photo IPP
Autoprint stand at Pamex 2020. Photo IPP


The first three quarters of FY 19-20 haven’t been good for Autoprint, according to him. “We won’t be able to grow, but we will maintain the same position as last year. We also export mainly to the Southeast Asian region and are very strong in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. We didn’t get enough export demand as well this time around,” Ashok shares.

At Pamex 2020, Autoprint displayed its inspection machine Checkmate 25, a 22 x 32 inch drip off machine, a die-punching machine, and a single-color press. “We will be happy if we sustain last year’s numbers. In the upcoming financial year, we expect business to flow in from monocarton packaging, and the machines that we will lay extra emphasis on will be die punching, drip off and inspection. Product-wise, we expect more business from monocartons segment, and geography-wise we will target exports. We expect the market to bounce back in 2021,” Ashok 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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