Bhaktinagar Station Plot and Lohanagar on Gondal Road are the nerve centers of Rajkot’s printing industry. In the last couple of years, a number of brand-new Komori multicolor sheetfed offset presses have been installed in these areas. Rajkot’s printers are now buying brand new presses, which was not the case five to seven years ago when printers purchased mainly used presses.
One such offset printing house is Impression Print Pack located in Lohanagar. Last year Impression bought a brand new 4-color Komori Enthrone 29 to add to the pre-owned 5-color plus coater Heidelberg press it was already using. “There was a need for us to expand our printing capacity. We opted for Komori because it was priced very attractively, and it offered great quality as well. So, it was a complete value for money deal,” says Bharat Patel, one of the owners of Impression Print Pack. Impression at present prints catalogs, stickers and posters for customers in the Saurashtra and Kutch regions of Gujarat.
New investments in postpress and packaging unit
At present Impression has very basic equipment in its finishing department and outsources most of its binding and finishing work. According to Patel, the company plans to invest in a full-fledged postpress machinery were disrupted and delayed due to demonetization and the onset of the GST tax regime in the past two years.
“Demonetization and onset of GST had a severe impact on Rajkot’s printing industry. As per our original plan we were supposed to strengthen our postpress section this year, but it seems that will not be the case. We now hope to add binding and lamination machines in next six to eight months. We are also looking to get a pre-owned 6-color plus coater press. However, before buying it, we will sell our existing Heidelberg press,” Bharat Patel says.
Asked if Impression will look to diversify into packaging, Bharat Patel says that there are plans to do that but nothing concrete has happened yet.
Sanket Offset in Lohanagar
A 15- to 20-minute walk from Impression takes us to the adjacent area of Lohanagar and Sanket Offset. The 20-year-old print house also bought a Komori last year. The brand new 4-color plus coater Komori Lithrone S29 now sits along with a 4-color Heidelberg SM74, which was installed in 2011.
Sanket Offset is a specialist in printing catalogs for the tile manufacturers who are based in the town of Morbi. “More than 95% of the work we get is that of printing tile catalogs showing their color and textures accurately. We are very good at that,” says Sudhir Patel, one of the partners of Sanket Offset.
Along with a top-notch pressroom, Sanket offset has a robust postpress section as well. It has PUR binding and perfect binding machines from Welbound, a Stahl folding machine and a Polar cutting machine, among other finishing equipment. Asked if Sanket Offset will look to venture into packaging printing, Sudhir Patel says, “No, we have no plans to enter into packaging. We want to focus on what we are doing right now.”
Rajkot’s commercial print market still struggling
Although it is close to two years since demonetization happened and more than a year since GST came into effect, both Bharat Patel and Sudhir Patel say that Rajkot’s print market has not returned to pre-demonetization levels. “We have not seen the kind of pick-up in commercial printing activity in Rajkot that was expected. In addition to demonetization and GST, it is the severe competition that is adding to the pressure,” says Bharat Patel. A similar sentiment is echoed by Sudhir Patel of Sanket Offset as well.