The printing industry in Pune is going through a situation of flux. Business seems to be down considerably and a few renowned printing companies have shut shop unable to take the pressure. Print & Publishing caught up with Girish Datye, president, Poona Press Owner’s Association (PPOA) to get insights into the future of the industry in Pune. Business has been down from 20 – 50 percent for the past one year, said Girish Datye, acknowledging that commercial printing in Pune is experiencing a slump. He attributed this slump to the irrevocable economic cycle that any industry has to see, the proverbial low after an amazing high.
The reasons according to him that has led to this situation amongst others is the fact that computerisation has reduced the business of stationery printing which was the mainstay of many small printers. To add to this, the penetration of personal computers in every home especially in the urban areas has meant that most companies now send digitised manuals, brochures, leaflets, etc. “The biggest challenge to us has come in the form of mobiles, which is a mini computer,” he said highlighting the rise of digital media that has negated the need to print on paper. In addition he said that Pune has been known as an educational hub and printing of educational books/materials was a very important part of printing industry. With the rise of computer usage in school for educational purposes and the rise of e-learning, he felt that this market would also witness a decline, over the next couple of years.
To add to this in the last ten years the Maharashtra State Textbook Bureau began giving their printing work out of state, adversely affecting printers in the state and specifically in Pune.
During the interaction, Datye emphasised that he has not being unnecessary negative but being president of an organisation that will celebrate its centenary in less than five years, he needs to open up with realistic view of the current situation.
Apart from the outside influences that impacted Pune’s printing press owners, they have also been battling very high price wars for the last few years. “Capital investments in the business have become very high and due to the intense competition, prices have plunged,” he said. Owners have not been able to break-even in the face of such price wars.
Pune vs. Hyderabad…
In 2007-08 it had seemed as though Pune was emerging as the fastest growing printing market in the country. Speaking about how Pune lost the race to Hyderabad, Datye said, “We are definitely lower than them in the growth of printing as an industry and there are many reasons for it. “Pune’s proximity to Mumbai has meant that most of the printing work was being done there. Hyderabad on the other hand remains the only city in the entire region and due to high demand its growth was huge.” He also attributed their high growth to their innovation. Big printers like Pragati have reinvented themselves and due to their growth, smaller companies also flourished. “Policies of the government also marred growth in the printing industry in Pune,” he said. Pune witnessed more printing work in the field of education as compared to Hyderabad. But, with the fall in printing of education related material, some of Pune’s big companies suffered losses and were unable to recover.
Advice to printers…
Being the president, Datye also had a series of advises for Pune’s press owners to overcome the hurdles to their progress and in some cases, even survival. “Blind investments in the business have to stop. People should buy expensive machines only if they have orders to fulfill. They have to avoid investing in speculative business,” he said. Reflecting on the current crisis, he highlighted how printing became a profitable business a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon. But now that the crisis has emerged it has become clear that only who can re-invest and re-invent will survive this crunch.
“Packaging is emerging as the stable line of work and printers will have to reinvent themselves for this industry,” he said. He advised printers to keep overheads as low as possible, and also keep the withdrawals low. “This is an industry where delegation of work or hiring people to work for you doesn’t help. Every owner has to be personally involved in the business,” he advised.
Most of all, he said that the price wars that caused this crisis in a major way must be tackled. “Business owners have to take a call on not working at rock bottom prices. The industry needs stability,” he averred. –Ritu Goyal Harish
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