Noel D’Cunha (NMD): Last month, the Indore Master Printers Association (IMPA) printed a booklet, Fact N Figures which highlighted the impact of raw materials price hike. What is the latest on the price front?
Pritesh Jain (PJ): The price hike has been ruthless and easily the most aggressive I have seen in my 30-year career. The shortage of pulp and waste paper created this situation worldwide. The prices are currently inflated around 30-50% in different variants as compared to November 2020. However, the prices for UV varnishes, adhesives and other chemicals are still rising sharply.
NMD: You have been quite vocal about the rising prices. How successful has IMPA been with its customer representation? How have print buyers responded?
PJ: I firmly believe that one should be completely transparent with their customers about the prices of raw and finished goods. This makes the relationship stronger. The IMPA initiative of printing a booklet has been welcomed by all customers and many have readily agreed to share the burden with their printing partners.
NMD: The past 12 months have been challenging for businesses in Indore. How have the IMPA members coped?
PJ: The Covid-19 lockdown of 2020 will forever be remembered for a variety of reasons. Within our industry, while many businesses suffered; many flourished. Survival always depends on how fast you can change to the market demand. Many commercial printers have now started offering packaging services as well to cope with the times.
NMD: Will new business and opportunities emerge post-coronavirus crisis?
PJ: Definitely, India will continue to grow in terms of volumes and spending power of the average consumer. This is probably our biggest opportunity –a growing market, which provides enough opportunities to satisfy all suppliers.
Jain lauds the future-ready manufacturing infrastructure the company created in 2016
NMD: VijayshriPackaging re-branded its logo. Why so?
PJ: 2021 marks 30 years of our existence. Our old logo was special and very dear to us. It represented the company's prowess as a four-colour printing company. While that was of great importance in the '90s; it is not so today. The new logo is more corporate in feel and sets the tone of a growth story for Vijayshri in this new decade.
NMD: Any revamping of Vijayshri's manufacturing strategy because of the Covid-19 crisis?
PJ: We are proud of the future-ready manufacturing infrastructure we created in 2016. It included a positive pressured air circulation system, clean and open spaces, hygienic cafeteria and in-house accommodation of more than 25% of the workforce. Hence we were able to take on this additional challenge in 2020 without breaking a sweat.
NMD: Vijayshri has plans to get certified for pharmaceutical and food packaging standards…
PJ: Yes. We are already certified for ISO9001:2015(QMS) and ISO14001:2015(EMS). Our current floor area is 1.8 lakh sqft excluding the 12,000 sqft of office area. Our new unit has a floor area of 70,000 sqft. We have plans to get certified for BRC/IoP: global food packaging standard and PS9000: pharmaceutical packaging standard.
The company is focusing on three important things this year – automation, ergonomics and systems
NMD: How have you kept the workplace morale up during the pandemic?
PJ: By personally coming to the factory every single day and supporting people when they are most vulnerable. Fortunately, we were able to rejig our team and give them new roles. This kept them busy and made them feel renewed with new energy.
NMD: How is business at the moment - for Vijayshri and for the Indore sector?
PJ: Business was good until the second wave hit the country. Now coupled with the sharp increase in raw material prices the demand has fallen flat.
NMD: What are the operational things that Vijayshri will be focussing on in 2021-22?
PJ: We are focusing on three important things – automation, ergonomics and systems. This year will mark the inauguration of our second unit with a focus on value-added corrugated products. The cornerstone of this expansion is a brand new six-colour UV press to be installed by May 2021. A new corrugation line, flute laminators, two die-cutting machines and a folder gluer will round off this investment.
NMD: One lesson you learnt the hard way during the past 12 months ...
PJ: A stitch in time; saves nine. Before investing in capital equipment, understand its capability and assess how useful it will be for you. It’s wise to not blindly follow any brand name and its marketing strategies. And lastly, never invest without testimonials and references from people you know.