We do not need more players, but big players: Alok Bharadwaj, Canon India

Alok Bharadwaj, who recently stepped in his new role as executive vice president, Canon India is gung-ho about maintaining the 21% growth year-on-year of Canon India. He spoke on a length of issues to Supreeth Sudhakaran during the first day of PrintPack India 2013.

25 Feb 2013 | By Supreeth Sudhakaran

What are your major targets and pain-points that you would address since assuming your new role?

Canon comprises of six business groups which witnessed a CAGR of 21% last year. This year we plan to switch our strategy with maximum focus being on improving the market share. The growth rate in this industry is not that high as it is in the other markets, therefore, it is imperative to have a bigger market share to compensate the falling growth rate. The other components of our strategy would be to creating new practices, customer segments and spotting opportunities. There are several new segments that we are looking at like medical imaging.

Canon spent 2011 and 2012 to acclimatise to the Oce product portfolio. What are the strategies in place for penetrating the market for Oce products this year?

We are planning to expand our footprints to newer wide-format applications and continuous feed digital print production segments with the Oce products. We have been handling Oce for two years now. 2013, we as an organization we are hoping for more independence to explore opportunities that the Oce products offer.

Last year, we installed one continuous feed, colour Oce presses, one in Delhi and one in Mumbai, in 2012. In cut-sheet segment, we have installed three Oce machines. There are 29 Oce machines installed in India; out of the 79 installed machine base. Maybe the number prints of other customers are more than the Oce machine, but the fact that we have the largest number of machines, is an encouraging factor. In terms of print volumes, Oce does 20 million A4 impressions per month. Out of these around 4 million is colour and rest 16 million is mono. These 20 million impressions are actually double the number of impressions we get on 110 Imagepress installed in the country. So we can say that Canon has been successful in establishing the market for Oce products in last two years.  

Why has Canon not being able to make a mark in the photo-printing segment?

In the photography domain, the overall printing activity is still lesser in comparison to the photo-capturing activities. Wedding photography is a different market although. Machines have still not reached such a level that they can compete the silver halide printing. However, Canon understands the potential of this segment and very soon we shall be launching a specialized photo-printing digital press that would give silver halide photos a tough competition.

Books on Demand has been talked about a lot from almost a decade, is cost the only hurdle in the way of its mass adoption?

There are both demand side factors and supply side factors that are important to be considered to make BOD a reality. The involvement of multiple stakeholders has been the challenge in the adoption of BOD. Real-time printing of books is a big opportunity that will soon become a reality. This is becoming a more real business concept with the introduction of high-speed continuous feed digital presses. More and more books will now be published on digital presses. We are talking to several publishers and sharing with them the opportunity BOD holds for them. We are hopeful of making a breakthrough very soon.

What are the major trends that you foresee?

Digital will see a growth in the number of solutions like workflows, software and automation. The prime focus would be on to establish an error-free production workflow to enhance production capacity. I do see more colour presses coming to India with special emphasis on the growth in transpromo. I had earlier expected scaling of operations to a major trend earlier. However, we are yet to see more consolidation in the industry. We do not need more players, but big player. They are the only one who would invest in the industry.

The government is looking at the export market because of the trade deficit. India has always had trade deficit, and that’s not going to change very soon. What we need is that the we should talk to the ministries and in unison, so that we are heard as an industry.

3D printing recently received more takers since US President Barrack Obama spoke about the additive printing in his speech. Is Canon interested in this market?

As of now it is not a very big priority for most of the digital production press manufacturers. These are infant opportunities. Naturally, the entry barrier – cost— is still very high. India being a small market in comparison to other countries, opportunities that can be scaled faster is on the radar. We are yet to see the effectiveness and successful proposition of 3D printing. India is as global as most developed nations and as primitive as the most developing nations.