The two pandemic years: Mohit Jaggi, Lucknow

Mohit Jaggi of Modern Printers shares his thoughts about print's future with Harjinder Singh, the honorary treasurer of 2020-21 at the All India Federation of Master Printers and director at Swastika Printwell.

07 Jan 2022 | By PrintWeek Team

Mohit Jaggi: There has been strengthening of the packaging segment in UP

The first lockdown was relaxing as we press owners don't get to spend quality time with our families. And so, those 18 days were spent with the family. Thereafter, we resumed working after we got the necessary permission from the government authorities.

Since the lockdown, and during the past 18 months, we have been impacted by raw material price hike + policies which have not been pro-print. Plus the hike in raw material prices has impacted the print business significantly. The rates of printing have not been revised for aeons. One is trying to survive through a complete turnaround job.

The problem is, the commercial segment has settled at levels far below pre-Covid volumes. We've also seen the industry evolve into an inflationary driven market. The commercial print market as we all see has been going down since the arrival of Covid. Hike in input costs has crushed the margins. Many big units in Lucknow have shut down. This has resulted in job losses.

Therefore we are trying to focus much-more on packaging. There has been strengthening of the packaging and label segment in Uttar Pradesh. I hope our industry can take advantage of the opportunities that come with economic growth or recovery in 2022.

Customer is king
Presently the print business in Lucknow city has been impacted severely.

And so, the customer is "The King'' as everyone says. We have to listen to whatever the customer says. Today, the customer wants the best job at the lowest price or the price that the customer was paying 2-3 years ago. This is not possible.

Today every single print firm is trying to embrace new technologies. Everyone talks about in-house repro and platemaking. This is because it helps keep costs down and ensures a speedy turnaround. But it's a difficult situation. On the one hand, technology is important. On the other hand, there is a cost to technology. Customers are seeking higher quality and speed to market. Also they have specific requirements. The print CEO is trapped in this "chakravyuh".

In the past few months, we have seen reduced run lengths and reduced lead-times coupled with increasing complexity of jobs. This could be print runs of 100 or 200 or 350. Right now, all of us are adapting to any type of order to ensure we meet the demands of our customers.

Brief history of Modern Printers
Modern Printers was established in 1972 by my father (Late Harish Jaggi). The company specialised in letterpress printing. I joined in 1992 and introduced offset printing. This is a second generation printing firm that is running this business.

Our press is located in Kaiser Bagh area which is in the heart of Lucknow city. The factory size is 5000 sq ft. We cater to most of the Eastern Uttar Pradesh market.

At present, we run two Komori Lithrone machines (19x26 inches) and an Adast (19x26 inches) which is backed by a binding unit.

The team strength is 15 members. We have team members who have been with Modern Printers since 1985.

We began with letterpress and now we are an offset print firm. Our investments in bolstering our press premises and then the addition of Komori machines set us apart.

Key lessons from the pandemic
I firmly believe we need to keep investing in the future of our industry. We need to attract and retain young talent. Otherwise, the print industry is going to end up with a significant skills gap in the next ten years or so.

The most important lesson I learnt during these 18 months has been to control expenses. "Money saved is money earned "

Lucknow city needs to see a paradigm shift within the print industry. Firstly there should be unity amongst printers and the printing prices need to be collectively revised. Only if we stand with each other in these tough times, can we survive and thrive.

One piece of advice, in order to cope in these tough times ... "Have faith, keep expenses low. I see a lot of light beyond all this all-pervading darkness."