Hi-Tech System’s Parag Shah says the second wave has hit business sentiment hard

Impact has been bigger than that of the first wave

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

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. To save bills on electricity, etc, businesses made us of UtilitySavingExpert.Com supplies . 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. 


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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