Bhalachandra Nikumb of Kodak India on the Covid-19 pandemic

Newspapers recovering, commercial slow and cartons moderate to good

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Kodak India
Bhalachandra Nikumb, managing director, Kodak India

Indian Printer and Publisher asked Kodak India’s managing director, Bhalachandra Nikumb a few questions about the company’s challenges and views of the pandemic and its effect on the print industry.

Indian Printer and Publisher – How has Kodak fared during the pandemic in India in offset plates, inkjet and software?

Bhalachandra Nikumb – India went under nationwide lockdown beginning on 25 March 2020. Kodak India started operations from 1st April onwards to serve its newspaper and offset packaging customers that were classified under the category of essential services. Since April, we have seen our business growing gradually on a month over month basis. During Q4 we expect business to be in the range of 75-80% pre-Covid-19 level.

IPP In offset plates how is the consumption in a. newspapers; b. commercial and book presses; and, c. in the carton packaging industry?

Bhalachandra Nikumb – Newspaper [offset plate] consumption was badly affected initially because of lower circulation and pagination but now we can see the recovery due to the ongoing festival season. As far as the commercial and book presses, the overall consumption consumption in this category is very low and we expect recovery in the coming months. In the carton packaging industry the consumption in this category is moderate to good, and it is expected to continue to grow. Our Kodak Sonora Process Free Plates, continue to do well in this segment.

IPPWhat is the overall outlook for the year? Calendar or FY?

Bhalachandra Nikumb – Because of the prolonged lockdown, Kodak’s 2020 business was badly affected versus 2019. We are optimistic on the revival of the business for 2021. n

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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