Print thrives! At Aravali Printers

Supreeth Sudhakaran and Rahul Kumar find out that with their feet on the ground, the team at Aravali Printers show little sign of the doom and gloom as they keep adapting and growing

14 Mar 2013 | By Supreeth Sudhakaran & Rahul Kumar

A man can meet his destiny, even if the road he travels was an option he took to avoid the destiny. Stemming from a family which was into the business of paper trading since 1956, Madan Lal Goel and his two brothers started Aravali Printers in 1984 in partnership with managing director of Rajasthan Patrika – the Late Karpoor Chandra Kulish – with the intention of publishing the newspaper from Delhi. 

“It was more curiosity than expertise which brought us to the printing business. Our family has been involved with the paper trading business since 1956. During the daily trading discussions and bargains, we developed a strong connection with the regional newspaper publishers. Although, it wasn’t a goldmine it was a promising segment to cater to,” shares Goel. 
However, Kulish’s decision to move to Jaipur forced Aravali to think about alternative model for sustainance in the print business. “The shopfloor was prepared with a view of venturing into newspaper printing. The pressroom was fit with a broadsheet Manugraph web-press with a 578-mm cut-off. But when we had to take a detour, we decided commercial printing would be the best bet forward,” recollects Goel. The setup also included a whole set of machines of different makes including an RO 62, a couple of web machines, Heidelberg plus a few more.
In the first few years, the company won several government sector printing jobs like book printing for NCERT, NBT, etc. “Slowly we understood the various trends that were changing the dynamics of the publishing industry and started taking up commercial printing jobs of non-governmental publishing houses too. Still approximately 90% of our production work is dependant on the government departmental tenders,” he says.
It was the new millennium that brought in a fresh outlook to the company. This was because of the gen-next of the Goels– Ajay, Vikas, Vijay and Sunny – who joined the business. Goel confesses that with many family members in the business, its more mutual understanding than clear bifurcation of work that has been responsible for the fairly smooth ride for the company. 
In 2010, the company had a turnover of Rs 35-cr. In the short period of two years, a series of expansions and diversification plans implemented in the earlier stages of the company’s evolution started bearing fruits. Last year, the company reported a turnover of Rs 72-cr, and is now aiming to breach the Rs 100-cr mark very soon. “The growth in commercial and book printing has slowed down. Therefore, we are very conservative in our forecasts. We plan to hit the Rs 80-cr turnover mark by the end of the financial year 2013,” he says. The company is also publishing academic books since 1992. However, this part of the business forms 2% of the total revenue share of the company. 
Men, machines and software
Aravali enjoys a reputation in the market for its book publishing, magazines, annual reports, catalogues and brochures printing works. With four printing plants, across Delhi and NCR region— two in Okhla, one in Faridabad and one in Sahibabad —Aravali’s pressroom capabilities are second to none.
The Okhla printing plant is not only the centre-point where all the management and finance decisions are taken and implemented at different centres, but is also the main centre where the commercial printing jobs are carried-out. The printing units at Faridabad and Sahibabad are structured in a manner so that they are exclusively deployed to cater to book and magazine printing works. 
In its pre-press department, the company has a mix of Screen and Dainippon drum scanners, flatbed, scanners and platesetters that consume around 300 plates every day. The printing department is plush with 14 units of sheetfed presses from KBA, Komori, Heidelberg and Mistubishi, and a battery of web offset presses – both heatset and coldset. In addition, a four-colour Heidelberg CD102 sheetfed is expected to be installed at one of the unit by April-end.
Together, the units have an installed capacity to produce five lakh books in a day and convert around 100 tonnes of paper every day. Currently, Aravali is producing 2.5 lakh books and converting around 40 tonnes of paper every day.
In the early stages of the company, Aravali invested its monies on secondhand presses, but since 2000, the strategies have changed. “Secondhand machines are for meeting production needs, for quality you have to depend on new machines. Rejection rates are higher with secondhand machines. Finally, it boils down to the choice between costs and the brand value of the company,” explains Goel. Within three years, the company is planning to replace all old machines with new ones.
Aravali is often inundated with commercial printing projects that require the job to be split and turned-around at separate centres simultaneously. “Having such capabilities required us to have connected units that are powered by good stock management solution software. Presently, stock-management software from CATS Infotech is in place at Aravali,” Goel says. At times, the company has special agreement with publishers to completely take care of their affairs right from paper procurement to dispatches.
Interestingly, while the world is going gaga about the threat from new avataars of print, Goel is unfazed by the trend. “India is battling with low literacy rates, and the internet penetration too is limited to certain sections of the society. I don’t believe we have to fear web-to-print solutions. Nevertheless, since change is the only constant, we are also planning to step into the digital printing by next year,” he says.
The way forward
Aravali, which is part of the empanelled group of printers with DAVP and DOP, is also making headway in book exports. Around 10% of its turnover constitutes exports to African continents and looks forward to increase the share to around 40% with its current and near future expansion plans. 
“The next course of diversification is flexible packaging,” he explains. “Packaging is the rising star; printing is more of a sustenance-based industry. We have started investing and are trying to establish a footprint in the segment. It will take six months before we have an operational setup. Corrugation and cartons will only find our interest in the second phase of diversification,” he adds. 
Asked if the decision to diversify to printing is based on the optimism surrounding FDI in retail, Goel says, “FDI in retail is still a flight of fancy. Until it starts taking a proper shape, it would be too early to invest just on the basis of assumptions and presumptions.” With feet on the ground, the Aravali team show little sign of the doom and gloom as they adapt, build and grow.

Established 1984
Location Delhi, Faridabad and Sahibabad
Speciality Books and commercial printing (Govt tenders)
Equipment Screen CTP, platesetters, drum-scanners. 14 units of sheetfed (heatset and coldset) press, Indian web offset presses, 40 units of postpress equipment
Staff 300