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

Significant cost-cutting measures in the offing

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.

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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