Press imports to fall sharply in FY 2020-21

Provin webinar on how to restart presses

Printing Industry
Vinay Kaushal, director of Provin Technos.

The impact of the Covid-19 virus looms large on the printing industry. In the past several years, the printing industry has gone through ups and downs as a consequence of specific measures and regimes put in place by the Indian government. Similarly, the impact of COVID-19 is going to be extremely harsh on the overall economy, which was already in bad shape before the corona effect came to India.

“This is a unique situation that the world is facing for the first time. The printing industry is directly dependent on various core industries and will surely be affected. However, at this point, we can only make some assumptions about its impact, which seems very fluid at this moment, largely because the decision on lifting the lockdown is still uncertain. Surely enough, every business is under serious threat right now and is merely looking to survive this phase. There will be a serious cash-flow problem once we get back to work, and that will be the real challenge,” says Vinay Kaushal, director of Provin Technos.

Government’s support will define recovery

As the printing industry is hugely dependent on various core industries, there will inevitably be an impact on print demand. “The worsthit will be the commercial printing sector, which will witness a steep fall in demand due to a severe lack of cash flow. The publication industry is another that may be equally affected by a fall in demand. The packaging industry will only be hit in the demand for the luxury packaging segment, but the demand from the FMCG sector will compensate for this shortfall. Overall, print demand will severely decline even though it may pick up in the latter part of the year. However, the government’s support for the small and medium sector industries will define how printing in India picks up,” Kaushal adds. The pharma sector has been classified as a part of essential services during the nation-wide lockdown and remains operational. The central government’s lifting restrictions on some life-saving drugs gave pharma companies a once in a generation opportunity to dominate the global supply of certain critical medicines. The Indian pharma sector witnessed a brief moment of euphoria during the pandemic, although specific constraints continue to affect the supply chain. “The pharma sector will be the least affected,” says Kaushal.

Press imports may decline sharply

The coronavirus added to the drupa exhibition postponement is undoubtedly going to have a drastic impact on the number of presses imported by Indian printers in FY 2020-21. While some will wait to take a look at the new technologies to be launched at drupa before investing, others would have to tackle the more considerable challenge of survival in the market after the lockdown ends.“Captial investment will be the least important consideration once the industry opens after the lockdown. The immediate challenge will be to survive. The import of new machines will be severely affected, and achieving even 25% of the FY 2019-20 sales is going to be a huge challenge,” Kaushal explains.

Provin organizes customer webinar

At this moment, almost all printers remain shut except the few who service the essential sectors. “Hence, there is nothing much which needs doing on the machine support side. We, however, are in regular touch with our customers. We conducted a webinar a few days ago, to educate our customers on the procedures to be followed for restarting the presses after the lockdown ends. The webinar highlighted the minor issues that arise in Indian conditions keeping in mind that the stoppage of the press happened in a very sudden and unplanned manner. This procedure or protocol was established in discussion with RMGT Japan, and the webinar was well attended,” explains Kaushal. In those places where Provin doesn’t have local engineers, and there is a severe breakdown,
Provin immediately arranges a customer visit. Since RMGT in Japan remains operational, technical, and other support from Japan remains available at all times.

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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– Naresh Khanna

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