Saurabh Printers ups capacity by almost 50% at Greater Noida plant

Many new installations at its plant in the last few months

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V K Gulati, founder partner of Saurabh Printers. Photo: IPP
V K Gulati, founder partner of Saurabh Printers. Photo: IPP

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. 

An expert from Saurabh Printers with a Knowzzlejet Duplex inkjet printer at the Greater Noida plant. Photo: IPP
An expert from Saurabh Printers with a Knowzzlejet Duplex inkjet printer at the Greater Noida plant.      Photo: IPP

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.”

A recently installed Binding machine from TekBound. Photo: IPP
A recently installed Binding machine from TekBound.          Photo: IPP

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.

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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