With capacity addition, CDC is poised to grow at 40% - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

There are major growth opportunities in books, packaging, and advertising materials, and Kolkata-based printer is prepared to take it all in, Manu Choudhury of CDC Printers tells PrintWeek

11 Sep 2022 | By PrintWeek Team

Kolkata-based CDC Printers is in expansion mode. Recently, the company added 50,000-sqft of additional working space to its existing facility, plus purchased a number of equipment, especially for the post-press segment.

These include two Bindlines with Freedom 5K perfect binding, Signa Gatherers and Trimit trimmers from Impel; one Eterna automatic foil stamping machine from Suba; one automatic flute laminator from Robus; one pre-owned case-maker from Kolbus; and one pre-owned 4+4 SM102 perfecting machine from Heidelberg.

The reason behind the new investments? Manu Choudhury of CDC Printers explains, “I believe there are major growth opportunities in all of our segments (books, packaging, advertising materials), and are prepared to take it all in.”

Growth vision
Choudhury adds that this year, the company invested quite a lot in this bid to be prepared.

“In book printing using web-offset, we have added 40% capacity. In the sheetfed-based book printing segment, we added 75% capacity. It will probably take a quarter or two to settle down. With this, we are expecting around 40% growth this year,” he says.

CDC is also planning to add another packaging line next year, thereby doubling the company’s packaging-printing capacity.

“We haven’t given much thought beyond the next two years, but in these two years, we are definitely growing at 40% at least,” he added.

CDC was established by Chittaranjan Choudhury in 1998. It has been a formula of pure hard work and perseverance for the senior Choudhury. Starting with a small accountancy firm with data entry jobs, Choudhury migrated to desktop publishing and print canvassing. It was not a smooth ride for him, buying his first printing press – a Swift – but the decision got the better of him, leading to the birth of CDC Printers.

Manu Choudhury, the second-generation, joined the company in 2010, armed with a Master’s in Print Media from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has been instrumental in automating business processes and has also made CDC technologically strong by implementing a comprehensive colour management system. Skilled in colour management, business management, lean thinking, change management, and business strategy, the print excellency for which CDC is known today are the fruits of his labour.

Choudhury says while the company is family-owned, a decent level of work is delegated to the team members, and their accountability is measured quantitatively.

The company has two units — Kolkata (head office) and Howrah (factory). The size of the operation is Rs 101- to 200-crore and the employee strength is 201-500 people.

Operation focus
Choudhury says the reason for the company’s recent investments in post-press machinery was to ensure that there are no traffic jams in the factory. “We are working towards avoiding bottlenecks in the factory. So, once printed, the materials should flow smoothly through different processes without being in any queue,” he says.

His solution? “Once the printing is scheduled, we plan the end time for all the other processes, including the final packaging, so that everything is completely defined and everything is monitored through MIS,” he says. “This gives us a very clear picture of our on-time delivery performance week-on-week.”

Already an established name in the book printing segment, over the years, CDC has also made its presence felt in the packaging-printing segment. The reason, Choudhury says, is because the company has been at the forefront of the fast development of new products in the packaging space.

“In a span of three years (including the lockdown days), we have developed over 2,800 different packaging SKUs. In fact, we guarantee our customers that if we cannot develop a new SKU for them in seven days, we will offer a hefty discount on the first order of that SKU,” Choudhury says.

According to Choudhury, CDC’s USP has always been on-time delivery without fail. “We complete all our orders on time. This is backed with real data and is monitored on a weekly basis,” he added.

Innovating print
Thus, for CDC, innovation is an everyday affair. But, is there an innovation that has created a wow factor in the market?

“We have created a portal for our clients, where they can log in, track their existing orders along with their exact delivery dates, view the exact specs used, and view their quality reports (upcoming). A platform where most of their queries can get fulfilled before even asking. I believe very few printers have managed it yet,” Choudhury says.

And his proudest print moment? He narrates, “Around five years back, while randomly walking through the lobby of the ITC hotel, I saw its chocolate brand, Fabelle, and absolutely fell in love with the packaging. At the time, we were not in the packaging space. An instant thought came to my mind — if we ever get into packaging, these are the kind of products that we should be making. Call it fate, or manifestation, today, we are the only printer in India to make those fabulous boxes and ship them to the other parts of the country.”

How does Choudhury inspire his team to remain innovative week after week? Choudhury says the idea is to never tell your team why to try new things. But ask questions in a way that they come up with answers that pushes them to try new things.

“And ultimately, let them be in-charge of the new thing. No one breaks what they have built. And even if you hand them the Taj Mahal, the acceptability is low. The idea is primarily from the book, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life,” he says.

CDC printers factfile

  • Year of establishment: 1998
  • Units: Kolkata (head office) and Howrah (factory)
  • Size of operations: Rs 101 to 200-crore
  • Employee strength: 201-500

Working with industry
Going ahead, Choudhury says he is open to collaboration. “Without collaboration, it is impossible to keep pace with the new age businesses and their way of working. We are open to knowledge sharing, problem-solving, and production support (wherever there is no clash of interest),” he says.

And his advice to the new entrants to the industry? “Welcome to the world of colours,” he says.

He adds, “My advice to youngsters entering the industry would be this: Don’t listen to the people who claim that the market is shrinking and the margins are going down. The same applies to everyone in every industry.

Unless you have already managed more than 50% of the market share nationally or internationally, the market as such should not worry you. Our market share will be less than 0.1% for most of us. This means we have the largest ocean in front of us that we have not explored yet. There are tonnes of money to be made as well.”

What is the one suggestion Choudhury has received from his customer about the market? “Today, you should be faster than you were yesterday,” he answers.

And to be faster, this is what Choudhury expects from his supply partners: “Give us proper delivery dates upon receiving the orders and stick to it. If there are any changes, inform us at the earliest so that an alternative can be arranged if required.”

Finally, the interesting thing he has discovered about the industry? “The industry is full of colours, creativity and innovation, along with being completely process-oriented. It is a perfect bridge between art and science,” Choudhury concludes.

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