Mumbai-based print finishing solutions provider Hi-Tech Systems has seen a bigger impact on its business due to the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic than the first wave that hit the country around the same time last year.
“Because of the fear generated by the severity of the second wave, business sentiment among our customers has been badly hit. Our customers became a lot more cautious and deferred their orders. Even orders that we had in hand got canceled or postponed. All this definitely impacted us,” Parag Shah, chief executive officer of Hi-Tech Systems tells Indian Printer and Publisher.
According to Shah, last year, the lockdown was much stricter, but the business sentiment in the print industry was strong. The Indian print industry came to a complete stop on 25 March last year when a nationwide lockdown was announced to stop the spread of Covid-19. However, because the intensity of the first wave was not as strong as the second wave, the industry began recovering once the reopening started in June last year.
“This year, I don’t not see much enthusiasm at this moment even as cases have begun to decline and restrictions have started to be eased slowly. This is mainly the case with the commercial printing segment. Packaging industry has been mostly doing well,” Shah says.
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 the central Mumbai district of Lower Parel.
Full recovery by year-end
Despite the uncertainties created by the second wave, Shah says that the print industry will bounce back stronger because there is a massive pent-up demand in the industry. He expects the gradual recovery to begin in the September quarter and sees a very strong business activity bounce back in the December quarter.
“I see the commercial print industry getting back on its feet by June end as restrictions begin to ease and cases continue to dip. The speed of vaccination is also likely to improve from July onwards. If about 30% of our population gets vaccinated by in the September quarter, I see a fast reopening of the economy in the December quarter. That will be a big boost to the industry,” he argues.
He says that printers have been holding their investments for more than a year now, and there is a huge desire among them to update their technologies and equipment. The events of the last one year have also taught printers how important automation is for them. “I see a lot of printers opting for solutions that will help them automate their operations,” he adds.
Hi-Tech Systems focusing on online services
As travel has been extremely limited during the lockdown, Hi-Tech Systems has been fully utilizing digital communications systems and is conducting a large part of its business online. The company has its own Youtube channel as well as a Facebook page where it regularly talks about and promotes the solutions it offers. In addition, it has been organizing web sessions to solve problems faced by its customers and charges a nominal fee for that. Shah says the customers have liked this endeavor.
Hi-Tech Systems plans to focus on its existing portfolio of products on the product front rather than launch new ones. It launched a digital label press last year and has managed to install the first unit recently.
“We have managed to install the first unit of the digital label press and are talking with more customers,” he says.