The Indian economy is expected to gradually spring back to life as the lockdown is replaced in a phased manner from 3 May 2020 onwards. Just like most parts of the economy, the commercial printing industry has also been pretty much shut since March 25. Pratik Shah, co-founder of Mumbai-based PrintStop India expects the industry to get back to normal by the fourth quarter of this calendar year.
“We are expecting that it will take at least six months post lifting of the complete lockdown for things to come close to normal especially for the commercial printing segment,” Shah said. “Within Mumbai municipal limits there were hardly any printers who were operational except the ones who are working from within. Local law agencies are enforcing the lockdown very strictly. There have been reports of a few presses opening on the outskirts of Mumbai but they are primarily catering to the FMCG and pharmaceutical industry.”
PrintStop India, founded in 2007, has also been completely non-operational since the start of the lockdown. The digital print house caters to the stationary, marketing collateral, and print on demand segments. It has implemented a hub and spoke model where there are multiple retail outlets across the city of Mumbai and then a mothership or the hub at Lower Parel. The retail outlets handle small jobs while big jobs are completed at the mothership. PrintStop India also has an active online or eCommerce presence but that still makes up a minority share of the overall business. However, this aspect of the business has been growing well in the last year or so.
Complete lockdown, zero revenue
“There is a complete lockdown. So, zero revenue so far. People are definitely concerned about the future, about their fixed expenses, and so forth.” Shah says.
Talking about the immediate impact that the commercial printing industry is going to see, Shah says operators with EMIs and rents are definitely going to suffer big. “It will all boil down to how profitable the previous years were and how big is your war chest. People will definitely use this as an excuse and there will be layoffs especially the ones which are in non-core departments,” he argues.
As per Shah, PrintStop India is currently in a wait and watch mode. However, the company has come up with a list of new products that it can and wants to offer to its clients.
“These 40 days have given us time to reflect internally and make our processes more robust, get connected to our customers, take a lot of training and make sure that our employees are much better skilled than they were before COVID-19,” he concludes.