Pratik Shah of PrintStop expects commercial printing industry to normalize in six months

Recovery will boil down to the company's war chest

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PrintStop
Pratik Shah, co-founder of PrintStop India

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.

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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1 COMMENT

  1. Pratik Shah, as many of us know is a smart and articulate printer. His analysis that it is going to take 6 months for economic recovery must be taken very seriously! His second point, the requirement of a war chest, that is money or cash for paying out without running to full capacity is also a serious question of stamina. I have talked to smaller digital printers in Mumbai and it will be very difficult for them to survive over the next six months since they are coming into the lockdown from a very depressed market and performance in the 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 financial year. The small guys are already down and there are many of them and how will they pay the installments on their digital presses acquired in the past two years? There are no easy answers. However, IppStar is doing a survey across Indian printers and packaging converters of their outlook on the situation with which I hope many printers will cooperate. You can write to me if you would like to participate and have not been reached by the IppStar team. There will also be a link to the survey on http://www.ippstar.org.

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