Indian print industry will bounce back hard – Prakash Canser

Prakash Canser is the new president of the Mumbai Mudrak Sangh

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print industry
Prakash Canser with new KM AccurioPress 6120 monochrome press

The Indian print industry will see a sharp bounce back in FY 2021-2022 after the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic in the current financial year, Prakash Canser, president of the Mumbai Mudrak Sangh (MMS), told Indian Printer and Publisher. Canser was appointed the president of MMS in September last year. He is also the managing director of the National Printing Press in Jogeshwari.

“The print industry will bounce back in the 2021-2022 financial year and bounce back hard. The 2020-2021 fiscal year has seen a sharp decline in business for the industry. But with the economy coming back towards normalcy and the vaccination drive beginning, print volumes should be on the way up as well. The year 2021-2022 will be on par with 2018-2019,” Canser said.

He said that 2020 should not just be treated as a year of the pandemic but also as a learning year. Canser explained that companies and entrepreneurs had learned the importance of cost management and operational efficiency. On the individual level, people have realized the importance of work-life balance.

Collaboration in the industry is vital

The economic slump induced by the pandemic put the brakes on considerable investment in the print industry. Canser expects these investments to revive in the new financial year, but he argues that it is essential printers collaborate to utilize each other’s capacity fully.

“It is natural that if print demand revives, the investment will also go up in the industry. However, I feel printers should look at collaborating. Printers need to be more calculating when it comes to big-ticket capital expenditure. A better approach will be to share each other’s infrastructure. The need to work together is especially applicable for small printers,” he said.

The MMS agenda for 2021

As the president of MMS, Canser has chalked out plans for the new year. The most critical focus area will help small printers understand complex but important issues, such as taxation and labor laws. MMS is working on setting up a panel of law and taxation professionals, which will help members.

“Small printers are often at a disadvantage when it comes to complex issues because they lack awareness. Our panel of experts will be there to assist them free of cost. If these printers want to further engage with them and hire the professional for longer-term engagements, they can do that in their individual capacity as well,” Canser said.

National Printing Press installs KM AccurioPress 6120

In addition to speaking about the industry and the MMS, Canser also discussed developments at National Printing Press in recent months. He said that the company recently commissioned a brand-new Konica Minolta AccurioPress 6120 monochrome digital production press.

The new press is primarily for printing bar codes. “The only reason we installed the new AccurioPress 6120 monochrome digital production press was for variable data printing, mainly bar codes for garment tags and labels,” Canser said.

National Printing Press has been using Konica Minolta technology for several years. In addition to the new AccurioPress 6120, it also operates a Konica Minolta bizhub 1052 monochrome press. Also, it runs a sheetfed Heidelberg 2-color offset press and a comprehensive post-press department.

The more than three-decades-old company prints garment tags and labels for clients across the country. Nearly 75% of its clients are outside Mumbai. It also has a factory in Tirupur, in South India, the hub for garment manufacturing. The Tirupur plant of National Printing Press’ caters to Tirupur and other customers throughout South Indian customers.

Focus on garment packaging applications

For National Printing Press, 2020 was the worst year in its history. Its turnover shrank for the first time, and that too by a considerable margin. Because of the lockdown, malls and shops were closed for 4-5 months last year, leading to inventory pile-ups in the garment and apparel sector and, therefore, a decline in orders for tags and labels. Canser expects a revival in the garments business to happen in the new financial year as malls and shops open and the inventory requires restocking. Additionally, the company is focusing on aggressively getting into garment packaging solutions such as boxes.

“In the new year, we will drive the packaging segment as many of our current clients require packaging boxes. We can provide tags and labels as well as boxes to them. We are strengthening our post-press department in Tirupur for the smooth operation of our packaging segment,” Canser said.

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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