PrintWeek (PW): It’s been an eventful 2019 for HP Indigo in India?
A Appadurai (AA): Last year was a good for us. There’s a belief that the photo market has slowed down. We don’t think so, because we are still growing.
PW: Can you share some numbers?
AA: We are doing roughly about 30-35% of all the wedding albums that are printed in India.
We estimate that there are about one-crore weddings that take place in India. India produces 1.4-crore photo-albums on an average. So, we are talking about 1.4-crore albums which are printed just in the wedding space in India. Roughly 35% of that is printed on HP Indigo presses.
PW: That’s a significant amount of prints?
AA: Yes, our installation base continues to grow, and not just in the big cities, but in tier-three cities too. We are finding new grounds in smaller places. Kota in Rajasthan has an Indigo. So, we are getting into places with our entry level machines.
PW: What about the B2 presses?
AA: We have gathered a huge momentum in terms of volume in the B2 space too. And I am glad to say that our customers with B2 presses are doing more than breakeven volumes. It does take some time, but now our customers are firmly entrenched in their businesses.
PW: In one of your discussions you spoke about redefining the market with the 14x20-inches press. Can you explain?
AA: Here we are talking about the consumer photo, a holiday book, an album of a consumer’s last trip — it’s going to be a game changer. It could double the photo-album business. We can sell more Indigo presses if 1% of India’s population starts printing the kind of consumer photos I mentioned.
AA: At present, these photos captured during holidays, on any device, mobile or camera, are not printed. There’s no technology like say online medium like Shutterfly or cewe in India. I think we are going to see more and more companies coming into India with that kind of online business.
The moment consumer photo becomes a culture, I can see a complete blue ocean photo business in front of me, in the next five or ten years. If 1% of India prints an album of 200 of the 600 odd photos they take in year, there will be a demand for 200 Indigo presses in India. That’s a simple backward calculation of the tremendous opportunity we are seeing.
PW: Super, but what the commercial printing space?
AA: A lot of our HP Indigo 12000 customers are doing general commercial printing works. There are digital specialists like Mazda and Silverpoint in Mumbai, Kadam in Pune or Klick Digital in Surat, who are engaged in commercial printing too.
PW: Your entry into the packaging space is something to talk about?
AA: Yes, we are really proud about it, getting into all the three spaces — labels, flexible and cartons. We are engaging with a completely new set of entrepreneurs, like Xpress Labels in Kochi, who are setting up label business with the Indigo WS 6900 press.
Take, for example, Kerala. There are many premium small and medium brands in spices, cosmetics, Ayurveda and gourmet foods. Right now 10,000 pieces of packaging is forced down the packaging buyers’ throats when only 100 are required. So for us, packaging on the label side has been a super success story.
Again, Essel in Assam is one of the top five sites for HP in the world, in terms of volumes. It’s a site where the HP Indigo is running 24x7 producing in-moulds. Essel has been able to notch up 10-million impression within a short span of time.
Essel is a speciality business. So is Huhtamaki, where we have installed the HP Indigo 20000 press. The volumes have ramped up, with the company doing one project after another.
There are projects like ‘Make your own chocolate’ on the lines of Share-a-Coke campaign. And I think the initiative that HP is taking in designing new ways of driving print business will be game-changers.
PW: Essel is in lamitubes and Huhtamaki in the flexible space?
AA: Yes, but the number one success for HP in the carton packaging has been the HP Indigo 30000 installation at Parksons Packaging, India’s first. The company has seven sites, and even if half the works at these sites are converted to digital, it will be huge.
PW: HP spends quite a lot on brand awareness. Why?
AA: Yes, 80% of marketing spend is on brand awareness and 80% of our time is spent with brands. It’s simple. We make brands aware of the HP Indigo press’ prowess. So when they make a panel of print service provider, they know whom to include. That changes the game for us, and our customers.
See, as far as carton packaging is considered, I believe we have no competition, except for inkjet, which is yet to arrive. Perhaps, it will come to labels, but not so much in flexible. That’s my perception.
PW: Moving from commercial print to labels or carton or flexible is not easy. It needs support from the print equipment suppliers. How does HP manage that?
AA: So, at HP we have two kinds of programmes. For customers coming from the industry, we just need train them on the technology for about a week or two. This is called ramp-up programme.
For customer who are completely from a different background, we have an incubation programme which spans across anywhere between six to 18 months. At this time, we are offering this as a free service.
PW: Coming back to 2019, you notched up close to 10 installations. What’s in store for 2020?
AA: We are looking to expand big time on the labels and packaging sides, then in the publishing side. There’s going to a big announcement with HP’s inkjet technology, which will be disclosed in time to come.