Before diversifying, printers must understand the segment they wish to explore

Converters must develop their core competencies and expertise, Vijay Aggarwal, CEO of Alpna Visual Packaging Aids tells Rahul Kumar

09 May 2023 | By Rahul Kumar

Vijay K Aggarwal, CEO of Alpna Visual Packaging Aids

PrintWeek (PW): What are your sales numbers in the last 12 months?
Vijay Aggarwal (VA):
We recovered our sales to pre-Covid levels in FY 2022-23. The year has been excellent in terms of development of new products, such as L Cure UV and LED ID system for narrow-web machines.

PW: A little ahead, we have the big shows — Interpack, Labelexpo Europe 2023, Drupa 2024. Would your company be part of these shows?
We will be participating in Drupa 2024. We will showcase our latest developments in UV and LED curable systems, and a wide range of print finish solutions for converters, including cold foil solutions.

PW: Do we have the data and trends that can prove packaging business is an industry well worth exploring?
The Indian packaging industry is growing at 15 to 18% year-on-year and it is a stable market because of the huge consumer base in India. Be it FMCG, health care, beverages or any other field, packaging demand has been growing steadily. So, in my view, it will be wise to venture into packaging segments provided you develop your core competency.

PW: Producing good quality products is of the essence… could share some pointers for those looking to diversify?
The real work of packaging, such as folded cartons, starts after the printing. So, before venturing into packaging segments, commercial printers must understand which segment of packaging they wish to explore, whether it’s folded cartons, labels, and pouches. They must develop their core competencies and expertise.

PW: Most of the CEO’s energy is focused on taxes. How does one find the time to focus on business?
CEOs in other parts of the world focuses more on developing systems and process, with a strong dedicated team for customer-centric approach. They focus on future trends and invest in technology development accordingly.

PW: Most print-packaging companies PrintWeek/WhatPackaging? meet say that it’s essential to keep the machines running with wafer-thin or no-margin jobs. Isn’t it a risky strategy?
Companies that rely on a robust product that delivers to meet the customer needs never fall short of business. If you focus on good customer experience you are bound to grow. Companies should always focus on profitable growth.  

PW: There’s a spike in the cost of spares. It has become a cause for concern. How would you explain these hikes?
VA:Rise in input cost has hit the bottom line badly. While you cannot change the selling prices, as prices are always governed by markets, saving by way of process efficiency and reducing non-value-added waste will be the key to maintaining the bottom line.

PW: What makes digital printing technologies come closer to meeting lofty sustainability goals like no waste, reuse and such, than their conventional predecessors?
Frequent change and upgradation of technology has been the main roadblock for digital printing in the packaging industry. Digital printing solutions should become more cost-effective and user-friendly. Otherwise, they will remain a short-run job solution provider.

PW: How is your company better placed than its competitors?
Our main contribution to sustainability is that our equipment are highly energy efficient.

PW: How should the print and packaging industry prepare itself for 2023 and the foreseeable future?
Per capita packaging consumption in India is much less than developed nations, so the demand in packaging will continue and the packaging industry will continue to see high growth rates in the next 20 years. Change in lifestyle, branding, and urbanisation has fuelled the growth in India. 


Vijay Aggarwal: At a glance

How do you prefer to start your day?
A good breakfast.

How do you cope when things get hard?
Focused approach.

Which is the book that you keep re-reading?
Who Moved My Cheese.

What really frustrates you?
Casual approach to work

What would you do if you had a whole day to do anything you wanted?
Sleep as much as I can.

If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Urad dal and roti.