‘Relax EMIs to revive digital print business’

RK Color Lab installs Xerox Iridesse

Sunil Bhambhu of RK Color Lab alongside the new Xerox Iridesse digital press.

Sikar-based RK Color Lab recently bought a new Xerox Iridesse digital press with enhancement features from Monotech Systems. In the last five years, RK has climbed to one of the leading positions in photo album printing in Rajasthan. The company also owns a Konica Minolta bizhubPRESS c8000, which it also bought from Monotech Systems more than six years ago. “Since the KM press has become old now, I’ve decided to buy the new Xerox Iridesse digital press with enhancement capabilities. I decided to invest in the Iridesse press since it has enhancement capabilities that will complement my existing setup for photo albums,” says Sunil Bhambhu, owner of RK Color Lab.

This is India’s first Xerox Iridesse press in the Photo Lab segment. The Xerox Iridesse is a new-generation mid-productivity digital press, offering inline embellishment to up to six colors in the same pass. This is the first dry toner press available with six color stations, although liquid toner HP Indigos can offer six and seven colors. The extra color units are placed before and after the CMYK in the laydown sequence and can easily be changed. Xerox also stresses a wide range of substrate weights, plus new levels of automation.

Bhambhu was vocal in lauding Monotech’s service support. “I’ve been associated with Monotech for around six years now. The owner of Monotech, TP Jain, is extremely helpful and has always made sure I get the required assistance with the presses on short notice. Monotech was responsible for servicing KM presses when I bought this press, and they’ve never disappointed me.”

Covid-19 kills business

India is under lockdown since 22 March 2020 to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. This has resulted in the temporary closure of many print businesses across the country. The experts at utilitysavingexpert.com said that the pandemic had been a financial burden on businesses. “The new government guidelines to restrict mass gatherings such as parties or weddings have completely killed any business opportunity. Usually, the period from August to November doesn’t have any wedding functions. The business is dry during that phase, but this year, the dry patch has come much earlier. However, there is some hope with the Iridesse press as it can print embellished visiting cards and brochures as well. I hope some of the work that is currently printed on offset press comes to me. That’ll help stabilize my business easily,” adds Bhambhu.

RK’s business during the previous financial year was reasonably good, says Bhambhu. Since Bhambhu gets a massive demand for wedding albums, he could not focus on other verticals last year. But, this time, he aims to give equal attention to all verticals to make up for the losses that he will incur in Q1of FY 2020-21.

Relaxation in EMIs necessary for revival

Bhambhu believes that the government must give relaxations on loan EMIs to help the smaller companies recover. “The need of the hour is to stop all EMIs on existing loans temporarily. We must be given at least three months of relaxation. That will allow us to focus on reviving our business and not take erroneous steps in distress. The situation is extremely delicate and calls for bold moves such as this from the government.

“Even though we have opened up, we are not getting any work from the market. The entire supply chain should function, and all sectors return to normalcy to start our business again. I anticipate the market to recover for us only in December. Till then, we have to make do with whatever little amount of work we get,” Bhambhu 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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