We are expecting strong double-digit growth: Himanshu Gupta of S Chand

During the New Delhi World Book Fair, which took place on 10-18 February, Himanshu Gupta, managing director of S Chand Group spoke to PrintWeek about the state of education publishing and the companyโ€™s growth trajectory.

21 Feb 2024 | By Rahul Kumar

Himanshu Gupta of S Chand at New Delhi World Book Fair 2024

How has been the post-Covid growth for S Chand? 

The Covid years were tough for the whole industry since we saw two lockdowns happen right in the middle of industry’s peak season in March/April 2020 and April/May 2021. Do keep in mind that education publishing is a seasonal business, where almost 80% of annual revenues come in the January-March quarter since the school’s academic session starts in April/May across the country.  Thus, to that extent, we were hit financially speaking in three years – FY20, FY21 and FY22. All education institutions were largely working only in online mode for a larger part of the two years, with no physical interaction between teachers and students. 

The industry returned to normalcy from FY23 onwards once schools opened up in March/April 2022 and we managed to surpass our pre-Covid revenues in FY23. We have had a boost from the final announcement of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) in August 2023. This gives us confidence that we would be achieving new highs in the company on back of our anticipated growth as the rollout of the NCF 2023 happens. We are looking to achieve strong double-digit revenue growth over the next three years. 

Have things changed in your book business after NEP 2020?

The announcement of the New Education Policy 2020 was followed by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) in August 2023. This change comes after a gap of 18 years. We have already developed new content adhering to the requirements of the new curriculum framework which we will be bringing to the market in this current sales season. We aim to continue developing newer content over the next 12 months and completely change our content to adhere to the new curriculum. 

The NCF opens up a large opportunity to provide engaging and innovative content to students, teachers and schools, to make learning more experiential. The NCF focusses on activity-based learning and provides for flexibility to students to choose between subjects. This will help the company gain a stronger market share with its brands and product portfolio. 

How is the K12 business?

These are exciting times for the K12 school education business. As we have now firmly entered the FY24 season, we see that schools are back to their pre covid schedules with regards to admissions, school openings, examinations, etc. We have had a new curriculum after a gap of 18 years which would make our children ready for the evolving needs of the new times. The new content developed as per the NCF 2023 would put the children of our country on the path of learning and enlightenment. For this current season, we have launched over 500 new SKUs in the school segment so far based on the new curriculum for these classes and we shall see the sale of those happen during this ongoing sales season of January to March. 

A couple of years back S Chand acquired several publishers. Is the consolidation complete? Can you share some numbers with us?

We did three large acquisitions in 2012, 2014, and 2016 respectively in the Central Board (CBSE/ICSE) affiliated school education business and West Bengal State Board affiliated schools business. We are happy to report that all these acquisitions have been completely integrated within the S Chand Group. All of our acquisitions have their respective strengths which give us the unique advantage of having a string of pearls strategy for the S Chand Group. 

On an overall basis, S Chand is a trusted quality education content company for over eight decades. The Group has a suite of products which offers complete solutions for learners across K12: higher education, competitive examinations, and digital platforms. The company has more than 10,000 book titles. Our pan-India distribution and distributor network has resulted in deeper market reach, consisting of approximately 3,000 distributors and channel partners. 

What's new on the horizon for S Chand? 

These are indeed exciting times for the S Chand Group. On the print side, we have launched over 500 SKUs this year and we intend to completely revamp our content to the requirements of the new  NCF within the next 12 months.   

On the curriculum side, we have recently launched Solid Steps, our integrated K5 curriculum solution keeping in mind the core concepts of the New Education Policy 2020. This ๐—ž๐Ÿฑ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ด๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—บ is meticulously designed to meet ๐—ก๐—–๐—™ 2023 ๐—ด๐˜‚๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜€, empowering young minds with essential skills – critical thinking, creativity, and a love for learning. We also have Mylestone, which is our K8 curriculum solution which continues to provide holistic learning to schools both in India and the Middle East. Our pre-school curriculum product, SmartK, is an activity-based product which is mapped to the NCF and continues to gain traction across schools in India. The group keeping with the times have also launched books on various emerging subjects, such as artificial intelligence for school students.

On the ed-tech front, our S Chand Academy on Youtube continues to have phenomenal success. We have now launched over 1,600 videos focused on higher education topics covering science, engineering and test preparation so far and the channel has already notched up approximately 21 million views and 220k subscribers. This further enables the promotion of our print content, spurring enhanced demand in that segment with the blended offering. This channel enables students to learn critical areas through top notch educationists which may not be available in tier 2 and tier 3 colleges. 

TestCoach, our test prep app is seeing strong traction to cover over 50+ government vacancy tests which is a huge market. We are adding additional features to this app, apart from mock tests, it shall also feature concept videos, doubt-clearing sessions, etc.