Kolkata’s Arihant Printers gives a good account of itself - The Noel DCunha Sunday Column

Print finishing and service matter most to Arihant’s customers, says Sunny Jain, managing director of the company, who relies on skill and technology to deliver perfect prints. Noel D’Cunha finds out how this hidden gem in Kolkata does it. Read more in this Sunday Column

29 Jun 2024 | By Noel D'Cunha

In 2005, Sunny Jain experimented with a print job at his screen printing unit in Kolkata. Using a mosquito net, he made a screen, mixed glitter powder in UV varnish, and screen-printed the mix on a calendar and wedding card. It became the talk of the town.

“The calendar and wedding card was much appreciated, and we got a lot of business because it became famous all over India,” says Jain, who ran Diamond Varnish, a screen printing unit, along with his father, the late Dilip Kumar Jain, in Kolkata. “Later, we deployed a screen mesh for such a print effect.”

Jain’s father founded Diamond Varnish in 1980, first specialising in varnishing and then lamination. Jain joined his father in 2000. On cue, he expanded the operations and set up a letterpress printing unit for calendar headings. 

In 2001, he added a spot and full UV coating machine from Hansa Enterprise, a manufacturer in Bengaluru (then Bangalore). Later, the company added foil printing and punching.

The beginning and beyond
By 2004, Diamond Varnish had started gaining traction. Jain worked with the equipment he inherited but he made some prudent purchases too. The older kit made work slower and the yield was less than good. “I told myself—those kits give print a touch of nostalgia,” says Jain.
In 2006, Arihant Printers came into being.

Initially, the Jains did lamination and UV coating for printers. Later, with Arihant, Jain specialised in printing catalogues, brochures, wedding cards, posters, calendars, and leaflets, using the in-house letterpress for its print requirements. For Arihant’s multi-colour print jobs Jain relied on fellow printers in and around Kolkata. 

As demand rose and productivity ebbed, Jain realised that he needed to inject some magic dust into the business.

The expansion
In 2008, Jain expanded with a new plant in Udayan Industrial Estate and installed his first offset press, a refurbished Komori four-colour press with offline UV curing. In 2012, Arihant invested in its second refurbished Komori, a four-colour press.

Also, over and above commercial print, Arihant added packaging to its portfolio.

Despite facing challenges such as prohibitive costs and cut-throat competition, Arihant continued to innovate and grow. The firm’s success can be attributed to its commitment to providing high-quality print and exceptional customer service, as well as its ability to adapt and evolve with the changing times.  “Our speciality has been our ability to produce special effects. Be it commercial print or packaging we can add value.”

In 2015, Arihant installed East India’s first brand-new six-colour plus coater, which was a fully loaded UV press from Komori. It also boosted its pre-press capabilities with a Kodak CTP and added the Maxima die-cutter and converting equipment. That’s how they became the first to introduce in-house print, converting and finishing for printing and packaging. “We did a variety of quality jobs, and our proficiency over pre-press enhanced our innovative printing capabilities,” says Jain.

In 2018, Arihant added new products—the Amaze premium notebooks and diaries with pan-India supply. It set up a new 50,000-sqft factory at Panchla. Today, it produces 20,000 diaries per day.

A new pitch
With momentum galloping along after 2021, the company ordered its fourth Komori, a new GL 40, a seven-colour plus coater IR and UV press. “The press has landed and is awaiting customs clearance at the port. We hope to have it installed at the Panchla site and be up and running by August 2024,” informs Jain.

Today, the firm has a combined area of 1,20,000-sqft, a team of 120 members and a turnover of Rs 50-crore. Jain has been a loyal Komori customer. “We have been using Komori presses for the last 14 years. Our people are trained on Komori, and their service engineers are good.”

Jain adds, “We invested in a seven-colour coater + UV/IR as the demand for Pantone jobs has increased in the packaging segment. This press will help us stay ahead of the competition, as no such press has been in eastern India until now.”

Topping print jobs
Recently, Arihant produced the ninth edition of its calendar. It was an impressive piece of printing, and Jain says that his customers and clients are impressed. “Some customers are refusing to believe that it is printed at Arihant because according to them, printing of such calibre is not possible in Eastern India,” says Jain.
Jain takes pride in Arihant’s pre-press department, which houses the Kodak CTP, which adheres to ISO 12647 standards. A team of 10 drives the department. “All files are checked, and colour corrections are done wherever required. We generally produce plates two to three days in before the job is taken to print,” informs Jain. Arihant’s pre-press team produces around 150 plates per day.

Packaging, the growth engine
One of the biggest challenges Sunny Jain faces is print price. “The rates of printing have been stagnant. There has been no increase in print price for the last 25 years, whereas expenses have exponentially multiplied,” Jain says. “We need the local print association in West Bengal to act and fix a standard rate chart,” implores Jain.

Having said that, Jain thinks that the Indian print industry is in growth mode due to the demand for packaging. “The commercial printing segment is dull, perhaps due to the impact of digital media, but the demand for packaging is compensating for the subdued demand.”

When asked about his profit mantra, Jain says, “Check how much ink you deposit on the substrate, control your waste, produce quality products and stick to delivery time. Stay ahead of the curve by being flexible and responsive to change.”

Sunny Jain: At a glance

Unwind in Kolkata
A mix of relaxation, cultural immersion and Durga puja.

Favourite spot in Kolkata
Parasnath Digember Jain temple in Belgachia.

Favourite snack at Arihant
Jhal mori, chai.

Favourite book
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

Favourite sports

Favourite sportsperson
Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni .
An international print factory you visited which is a must-see

Tosho Printing Press in China
One thing about Kolkata no one knows
As of 2006, Kolkata had no Kolkata station, and the Howrah Junction station in Kolkata was the busiest junction in the country, with 974 trains stopping daily.
One print factory you love
Pragati Offset in Hyderabad.
One phrase you utter at least once a day
Kuch naya karna hai.