While inheriting a business is the easiest way to entrepreneurship, it certainly isn't the most common road to success.
Bhuvnesh Seth, managing director of Replika Press, his uncle Jagdish, the director for business promotion at Replika, and his GenNext director sons - Sanandan and Vikaran, have "been there, done that."
Replika achieved the feat of printing 2,533 titles in 2009 with printing for medical, scientific, technical, cook books and coffee table books in single and multicolour, soft cover and hard cover with high print runs in record time for UK, Germany, Czech Republic and France for reputed international publishers.
Jagdish says: "We have a number of feats to our credit. In 2009, we printed 1,00,000 copies of Slumdog Millionaire. Also, we produced 1,21,000 coffee table books as part of a series of 30 books which were delivered to an international publisher in three months."
"Innovation tends to follow a fixed path - one big idea begets another, and so on," says Bhuvnesh.
A humble journey
Replika Press, founded by Bhuvnesh's father, the late Shori Lal Seth, has been in the book printing trade for more than 60 years.
Initially it was a letterpress treadle unit in Subzi Mandi in Old Delhi. This unit triggered growth into high gear book printing in 1996 after it made a move to Narela (outskirts of Delhi).
"We rechristened the press as Replika, and the focus was 100% export-oriented," says Bhuvnesh.
Today Replika is an ISO 9001 and FSC accredited company.
It is a specialised book printer with an infrastructure of 1,32,000 sqft area located in the Export Promotion Industrial Park (EPIP) in Kundli, Sonepat in Haryana.
It is an integrated facility for handling 6,500 MT of paper per annum.
The facility houses top-of-the-line high-end technology machinery and workflow solutions to produce 36,000 hard case and 50,000 soft case books per day. This fgure is half of the installed capacity at Replika.
Come 2010, the company has achieved a turnover of Rs 70-cr (Rs 700-million), which is exemplary, given the exclusive business of book printing.
"Notwithstanding the meltdown in 2009, export rose by 15%," says Bhuvnesh.
Replika has progressed with a life cycle approach.
The odyssey begun from being techno geeks to a full blown integrated printing house professionally embracing modernisation to become one of the top faces of Indian book printing industry, which prints and delivers 40 million books per year.
Replika has a solution for every book that can be printed on paper with capability to produce runs from 500 to 5,00,000 and deliver soft case and hard case with perfect or PUR bound with added application of special finishes, UV varnish, die-punching, foil stamping and blocking.
Vikaran says: "The book can be of any shape and size. You name it and we give it."
"With the raft of giant toys that we love to play with, we can meet any deadline for any publisher," says Sanandan who is a printing graduate from the London College of Printing.
For Replika, apart from the domestic market, 70% of the market is in exports. The years between 2001 and 2006 saw a steep upward growth in exports.
"Europe, particularly UK has been a prime market for us. But today we have the US, Russia, Czech Republic and Africa among our markets," says Jagdish.
Exporting products can be rewarding for print companies. "Tenders from these countries are time bound with titles ranging from 50 to 200, which are to be met within the stipulated time-frame," says Sanandan.
Bhuvnesh has been a veteran at book trade fairs. He says: "Markets like US and Africa have potential. We go with an open mind to LBF (London Book fair), CTBF (Cape Town Book Fair) and FBF (Frankfurt Book Fair) to tap opportunities."
Seth is upbeat about the domestic market and thinks the prospects are promising. That's why Replika plans to invest in printing, digital printing and pre-press. All operations in the new plant will be ready by June 2010.
"The investments will empower our network, upgrade our facilities and improve our products," concludes Bhuvnesh.
REPLIKA PRESS FACTFILE
Founded in 1948 and renamed in 1996
Specialty Medical, scientific, technical, cook books and coffee table books
Location EPIP Kundli, Sonepat, Haryana
Equipment Two Screen CTP systems; five-colour presses from KBA and Heidelberg, plus four-colour presses from Heidelberg and Mitsubishi and more . A raft of MBO, Stahl, Bremer, Aster, Muller Martini, Astronic, Multiplex, Wohlenberg, Kolbus, Perfecta, Kluge post-press kit