Hi-Tech Systems to double top line in 2021-2022

Recovery for short-run and quick demand print & packaging

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

Mumbai-based print finishing solutions, Hi-Tech Systems expects the 2021-2022 financial year ending on 31 March to show robust growth due to the low-base effect of the previous year. The Indian print industry has recovered considerably, according to Hi-Tech Systems’ CEO Parag Shah, especially as the second wave ended in mid-2021 and the lockdowns were eased.

“The current financial year has been good for us and we expect our top-line numbers in 2021-2022 to double from the previous year. This is because of both the rebound in demand for our products and the low base effect in the previous year which included the completed lockdown announced in March 2020,” Shah says.

The Indian economy came to a complete stop on 25 March 2020 when a nationwide lockdown was suddenly announced to stop the spread of Covid-19. The lockdown led to a sharp fall in business activities across the nation and the Indian economy contracted by 7.3% in 2020-2021. However, during the second wave of the pandemic, in March and April 2021, the restrictions were not as harsh as in March 2020. Although the Indian print industry suffered many casualties and fatalities, the economic damage of the second lockdown was not as deep. 

Shah says that the impact of the third wave will be minimal as the wave has been very mild and the governments have refrained from imposing any major restrictions. “The curbs imposed in the third wave have been localized and minimal. I do not see any major impact on business activities. The damage is likely to be very mild if any,” Shah adds.

Hi-Tech Systems was established in 1989 and since 2008 has emerged as a leading supplier to short-run, on-demand, and quick print finishing solutions businesses. The company, which represents multiple global brands, operates from Shah and Nahar Industrial Estate in Lower Parel in central Mumbai with branches across India. Over the years, it has installed more than 2,700 machines across the country. The company has more than 1,700 customers and 50% of its orders are repeat orders, Shah says.

New products in the pandemic get a strong response 

New launches by Hi-Tech during the year have received a strong response. Shah says that the highlights of the year would be the success of the OKI Pro9542 digital printer, which enables printing CMYK+ White or Clear inks and can print on ready-to-use zip-lock pouches. “We launched OKI in the 2021-2022 financial year and expect to install more than 20 units by the end of March. So far we have already installed eight units all across India,” says Shah. 

Designed for graphic arts and light production use, the Pro9542 delivers CMYK plus high-density white print in a single pass on a wide range of light, dark and transparent media. A sheet-fed printer using LED toner-based technology, the OKI Pro9542 is ideal for printing short-run packaging, greetings cards, stationery, tags, and labels.

Hi-Tech also launched its Anytron range of digital label printing presses this year, which have been a success, Shah says. “We have managed to sell a good number of the Any-002 model by Anytron. D’décor has been a repeat customer. They use the machine mostly for variable data printing,” he adds.

Focus on online services and social media

To overcome the travel limitations of the past two years, Hi-Tech Systems comprehensively used digital communication. It still conducts a significant chunk of its business online. The company has its own Youtube channel with more than 1,700 subscribers and a Facebook page with a considerable following. The company has a LinkedIn page with more than 3,300 connections where it regularly talks about and promotes the solutions it offers. It has been organizing web sessions to solve problems faced by its customers and charges a nominal fee for these. Shah says customers have liked this endeavor. 

“We have been fully utilizing all the digital technologies available to connect with our customers. Although travel restrictions have been considerably eased this year, compared to the previous financial year, a great deal of the business is still online. And this trend is here to stay,” Shah argues.

Plans for 2022-2023

Shah says that Hi-Tech plans to further consolidate its business in the 2022-2023 financial year and introduce a couple of new products. “We plan to focus on the label and packaging industry in the next financial year. We will likely launch a couple of products for label and packaging customers next year. We also plan to offer something for paper bag printing,” Shah says. 

The company is looking to hire engineers in Southern and Western India. At present, it has engineers in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru. “The market in the south is seeing robust growth, and we feel we need to have a team for this region. The expansion of our footprint in India will help us grow, and we hope to repeat the performance of 2021-2022 in 2022-2023 as well,” Shah concludes. 

Note — This article is from the February issue of Indian Printer & Publisher which will be posted to readers on 23 January 2022.

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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