Prakash Canser: Don't reduce 2020 as only the year of the pandemic

Prakash Canser was appointed as the president of the Mumbai Mudrak Sangh (MMS) on 30 September 2020. Canser helms ops at the 32 year old National Printing Press who are specialists in tags. Besides Mumbai, the company has a factory in Tirupur, the knitwear capital of India, which accounts for 90% of India's cotton knitwear export

06 Jan 2021 | By PrintWeek Team

Prakash Canser, president of the Mumbai Mudrak Sangh (MMS)

Congratulations on becoming the president of the MMS during a difficult time.
I am really fortunate to be amongst a group of wonderful people (my MMS colleagues). I joined MMS eight years ago, and have served the industry in various posts. I never thought that I would be the president of such a unique, disciplined and dedicated association. All thanks to the managing committee members for having faith and trust in me.

What was the first task you did?  
Small printers are feeling very lonely. Most of them don't know where and whom to approach in a time of crisis. Some of them are not capable of paying life membership fees. MMS needs to bring comfort to them and ensure they can overcome the hurdles. And so, we are co-opting professionals from various fields to help members with consultations. There are many more projects the MMS team has taken up. We will start implementing these projects, soon.

Will you host the MMS conference in February?
No, we will not be holding any programs in February. We will only host a few virtual events. The team is working on the modalities.

What is the change in the commercial print market that we should anticipate in the post Covid era?
I am not an analyst or a statistician. PrintWeek must be having better figures about this.

Well, our numbers suggest doom and gloom. The high print volume jobbers are saying that they do not expect print volumes to return to pre-Covid levels in 2021.
Yes, commercial print business had suffered tremendously for various reasons during the Covid period. Since December, it looks like it is limping towards normalcy. People have started buying print but in lower quantities. These will subsequently increase as demand for products and services will go up. Printers are struggling but they will have to continue the trudge for a few more months.

In offset print, firms are expecting print volumes to drop by 35-40% and with digital printing, firms expect print volumes to drop by 20%.
True. Which is why, to survive and sustain their balance sheets, many commercial printers have shifted to packaging. To share an example, printers who used to cater to the exhibition and event industry are facing huge problems.

What effect will WFH policies of large corporations have on the print volumes?  
Personally I don't see any effect on the print volumes. WFH is a temporary phenomenon and people will want to return to their offices soon. Even if WFH stays for long, corporations who have their ways of working will function accordingly. Infact I see a rise in print volumes as most of the literature and training materials will have to be printed. To give you an example, WFH has increased the business of courier companies as the hard copies, samples, etc. which were circulated in offices manually are now being sent through courier to various locations.

What will be the effect on run lengths ...
Not much will change, maybe for time being long runs will be converted to medium runs and the medium runs to short runs.

Will shorter run lengths mean more digital print volumes?
Yes, short runs will increase as many startups have come up in this covid period. These startups need a variety of print materials, Labels, literature, pamphlets, cartons, boxes and much more. This will definitely bring a quantum leap in short runs.

Will the colour vs mono print volumes equation change in the post Covid era?
Yes, the colour print business will increase. Nowadays consumers are quality conscious. The Gen Z love to see things that are well produced.

Any major changes especially in the wedding photo album market , education vertical and jobber vertical that you foresee?
Fifty to hundred people in a wedding or a family programme will transpire. Those who can't attend will want wedding albums and photo albums. This will continue the way it was done earlier. Education definitely yes the print volumes have come down since all the institutions are teaching online. But what when these institutions reopen? There will be a bounce back.

Will firms invest more in technology - and do away with dependence on people's availability in their printing shop floor. For example, investments in workflows and finishing equipment?  
Printing industry is a labour intensive industry. We have a workforce of 25 lakh employees in India.  The more you invest in technology, the more your sales will increase. In order to service it you need more people. Investments in workflows and finishing equipment is a way to improve your work efficiency and boost smooth functioning.

What are the trends you - as the MMS president - are picking up from Navi Mumbai and Vasai and Bhiwandi?
Many small and big printers are shifting to satellite areas of Mumbai as there is developing infrastructure, ample water, power, labour, logistic facilities -and most important of all cheap rents and property value. Today because of digitalisation and good logistic services it doesn't matter where one's unit is located, clients are more concerned with value for money products, timely delivery and service. At MMS, we have a membership cell and the young members in the team are targeting how to tap more members by connecting with them. We used to have "MMS at your doorstep", which we will restart.

One lesson you have learnt from 2020?
Please don't reduce 2020 as "only" the year of pandemic. Don't think it's a curse. I think, Covid has taught us a lot of things.

Such as?
There's no tomorrow. We have to live for today. It has brought the world closer. Many entrepreneurs were born, lots of start ups were set up. We have learnt from our mistakes and people have made a new start.

Your message to the fraternity for 2021?
Leave all worries behind. Let bygones be bygones. Be positive, good days are here to come. Restart your business, it's time to remedy your mistakes. Make a new beginning and march ahead.