Mumbai’s SRK Creative prepares for the post-COVID-19 world

Significant cost-cutting measures in the offing

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SRK
Kalpesh Mehta, SRK’s chief marketing officer

For more than three decades, Borivali-headquartered SRK Creative has been the dominant player in the photo album market of Mumbai. In recent years, it has expanded beyond Mumbai and has also made a mark in commercial and book printing markets. However, with the photo and commercial print market in turmoil due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the company is preparing for the “new normal” or the post COVID-19 world.

Our business has taken a big hit since the lockdown came into effect on 25 March. We have had time to assess the situation and have realised that the post-COVID-19 world will be very different and we will have to take some really tough decisions. Our focus will be on cutting cost, launching new products and entering new markets,” says SRK’s chief marketing officer Kalpesh Mehta.

According to Mehta, the focus will be on reducing both fixed and variable costs. The company plans to cut its employee count as well as reduce compensation. It also plans to optimize power costs.

We have to take tough decisions like cutting headcount and reducing compensation. The print market was struggling even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit all of us. The lockdown and suspension of all economic activities have now created an unprecedented situation. It is a matter of survival,” Mehta adds.

In addition to cutting cost, SRK is planning to launch new products which will help in creating more revenue options. The company plans to launch several new products in the photo market, focusing on the non-wedding segment.

We are looking to create new products in the non-wedding photo market which remain mostly untapped. We have thought a lot about all these things and will begin launching these products once the lockdown is lifted, which I expect to happen soon,” Mehta says.

SRK is also preparing its offices so that all safety measures and social distancing norms are strictly followed. According to Mehta, in the near future all deliveries will happen at the entry gate.

We will take utmost care of the safety and cleanliness at our workplace. Also, we have decided that we will enhance our digital marketing efforts so that orders are place virtually. Also, all the deliveries will be done at the gates and entry for outsiders will be severely monitored,” he says.

No investment and expansion plans

As the next six to eight months will be spent on focusing on adapting to the new economic environment, SRK will not be going in for any big investments or branch network expansion. The company currently has four branches at Borivali and Dadar in Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad.

No, we do not have any plans at the moment to expand our branch network in the near term. We will only look at sustaining the operations at our four branches,” Mehta adds.

Any plan to expand will only be considered once the market stabilizes and things are back to normal, Mehta says. The next focus area of expansion will be in the tier 2 and tier 3 cities, mainly in Maharashtra. “We see huge growth potential in the tier 2 and tier 3 cities. In fact tier 3 cities hold more promise that tier 2 cities. We will focus on cities such Ratnagiri, Amravati, Kolhapur, Solapur, and Baramati,” he concludes.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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