Commercial print volume falls in Bareilly due to Covid-19

Vardhan Printing Press installs Komori Enthrone 429

Manoj Arora, owner of Vardhan Printing Press and the Komori team with the newly installed Komori Enthrone 429 sheetfed offset press

Vardhan Printing Press, based in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, recently invested in a Komori Enthrone 4-color sheetfed offset press capable of printing 13,000 sheets an hour. Manoj Arora, the owner of the 37-year-old company, ordered the press much before the Covid-19 outbreak. However, the installation was delayed because of the sudden announcement of the country-wide total lockdown on 25 March 2020. During unlock 1.0, which began on 8 June, the Komori India team quickly installed the press.

“We wanted to upgrade our technology to help us sustain the business. Hence, we opted for Komori. We are known for quality in the market and wanted to maintain our reputation. Even though the business situation is a little shaky right now, we are hopeful that once the market situation stabilizes, we will start getting good demand from the market. The new press can print on sheets with thickness varying from 0.4mm to 0.6mm. It shortens the changeover time between light and heavy stocks significantly because no transfer-cylinder gripper-pad adjustment is necessary. In short, the press enables working efficiencies that result in higher margins and business growth,” says Arora.

In the past, the company has used 4-color, and a 5-color used Dominant offset presses for printing. The Komori is Vardhan’s first brand-new press. “We have not taken any loan to buy this press and bought it from the company’s savings. For a long time, we have wanted to purchase a brand new press. Since our print business comprises job work for customers in the market, the print runs are shorter. We also looked at other brands, but in our view, they weren’t as good a fit for shorter run-lengths and are hoping the new press helps us boost our business,” adds Arora.

The Covid-19 situation has crippled the printing market of Bareilly. “The demand has fallen by more than 75% ever since the lockdown was announced. I believe that this pattern will continue until the end of this year. Even though there is a slight improvement in demand, it doesn’t look very encouraging to me. We used to print and supply nearly 10 lakh (1 million) sheets a month, which has fallen drastically due to Covid-19. We hope that the situation improves soon,” Arora 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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