It was our second meeting this year with the book printing veteran, V K Gulati — founder partner of 31-year-old Saurabh Printers – who guided us around his plant in Greater Noida and showed us his new acquisitions – a UV machine, a sewing machine, and a binding machine from Tekbound.
The company says it is the first in the country to install inkjet technology. Saurabh Printers installed an automatic inkjet digital machine in 2020, which took almost a year to calibrate.
During our last visit in February 2022, we learned about their plans to order a new inkjet press, which is now on trial and will be installed in November 2022. Gulati also has plans to install his second RMGT machine by December 2022 and a fully automatic case-maker by the end of this year.
Gulati says, “Monocolor offset is not going anywhere yet; that’s why we are going for inkjets. At present, we are the only one to have an inkjet. During Covid-19, in FY 2020-21, our production was down by 28%, in FY 2021-22, we came back to FY 2019-20 levels. However, in FY 2022-23, we are expecting a 40% growth, and we have already achieved 50% of it in the last year. Our main challenge is the hike in the price of paper, and the reason behind it could be a basic pulp shortage and cooling issues in the paper mills. Publishers are not showing interest in investing in paper and are asking their print partners to buy it. The government is keeping mum. Previously, paper cost used to be 58%, and today it has gone up to around 78%, so we have already stocked up.”
The book printing industry has a never-die future as the demand for books is growing gradually, he said. “In compliance, we are the highest-rated book printer in the world. In 78% of the overall industry, we have 90% compliance. We have taken a step forward by providing both logistics and warehousing to our publisher customers from its warehouse in Delhi’s Okhla Industrial Estate.”
Gulati says they are concerned about the environment and have their in-house water-treatment plant. “By 2023, we will install solar panels in our plant,” he said.
Saurabh Printers works for well-known publishers such as Pearson Group, HarperCollins, LexisNexis, and Wolters Kluwer. Locally, its main client is Rupa Publications, which, he said, has the best marketing strategies to attract its customers.
It was good learning from Gulati, who also spoke about the growth of book exports and new technologies in book printing.