Mumbai’s Hi-Tech Systems inches towards normal operations

Manages multiple installations in recent weeks

Hi-tech Systems
Parag Shah, chief executive officer of Hi-Tech Systems

Mumbai-based print finishing solutions provider Hi-Tech Systems is witnessing its business inch towards normalcy as the print industry recovers from the Covid-19 related shutdown. The Indian print industry came to a complete stop on 25 March when a nationwide lockdown was announced to stop the spread of Covid-19. The lockdown has been gradually eased since end-May which resulted in many printers restarting operations. Restrictions have eased further since then.

“Most of the printers in Mumbai as well as India are back online. We have also been fully operational since the first week of June. In the last almost two months we have seen printers moving towards normal operations. We have also managed to install machines in recent weeks,” says Parag Shah, chief executive officer of Hi-Tech Systems.

Hi-Tech Systems was established in 1989 and since 2007 it has emerged as a leading name in the short run, on demand and quick print finishing solutions business. The company, which represents multiple global brands, operates from Shah and Nahar Industrial Estate in central Mumbai district of Lower Parel.

Localised lockdowns disrupting operations

Although restrictions imposed by the central government have been considerably eased, localised lockdowns in many parts of the country in the month of July is posing a challenge.

“During the first stage of unlocking in June, we got good orders. We also managed to execute the installations as transportation of goods is not an issue now. However, in the recent weeks a lot of southern states have re-imposed restrictions due to rise in Covid-19 cases. We have seen lockdowns in Chennai and Bengaluru. This is hampering installation work,” Shah says.

Not only southern state but a lot of other Indian states like Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have announced various types of restrictions in July as Covid-19 cases rise in these states. According to Shah, at present the print market in west India is closest to normal, followed by south India and north India.

“Mumbai print market is fully operational. Shah and Nahar Industrial Estate, which is the printing hub of the city, is seeing a lot of activity. However, there are still restrictions on movement which creates labor issues. But I expect things to be normal by August end as number of cases in the city has now plateaued,” Shah says.

Living with the virus

While Mumbai and Delhi are seeing a plateauing of Covid-19 cases, other parts of the country are seeing a surge. This is creating some apprehensions. However, according to Shah, businesses have now realised that the country has to live with the virus.

“I feel the fear of the virus is gradually receding. People have realised that the virus is here to stay and we will have to live with it. Yes, we have to take proper safety measures but we cannot continue with lockdowns forever. We have seen that business is coming back and I expect things to be very close to pre-Covid levels in the next two months,” Shah argues.

Hi-Tech too has adapted to the new normal and is conducting a large part of its business online. Shah says the company will further strengthen its digital marketing operations. “We have our Youtube channel as well as a Facebook page where we regularly talk about and promote the solutions we offer. We have also intensified e-mail and Whatsapp marketing. We have learnt a lot during these last four months and will continue with these methods even in the post-Covid era,” Shah says.

Shah also advises that printers need not panic and cancel their order that they placed before the Covid-19 pandemic emerged as that would be unhealthy for their business from the medium to long term point of view.

New products planned

Hi-Tech Systems is ready to launch new products this year. The new product launches were delayed due to the pandemic and these new products will be unveiled digitally.
“As I said earlier, there is a new way to reach out to customers and do business, that is digitally. In recent weeks many global players have launched their products online. We will also take the same route,” Shah 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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