With India's young and skilled talent pool, the country can become a global leader in R&D

Markus Hoffmann, a managing board member at Kurz, is upbeat about India's growth story. “People here seem to be resting on the success stories of yesterday, while Indians are focused on achieving success of tomorrow,” he tells Noel D’Cunha during a conversation at Drupa.

03 Jun 2024 | By PrintWeek Team

Markus Hoffmann, managing board member at Kurz, at Drupa 2024

How have these last five days at Drupa panned out for Kurz?
It exceeded expectations. After eight years, you're nervous if things will be the same. During Covid, some people said there was no need for exhibitions anymore, but we never believed in that. Nevertheless, some people were worried that not everybody would come. So, you may have 10 to 15% fewer visitors if you compare numbers, but that's not a fair comparison. The quality of the decision-makers and the internationality is amazing. There's a different ranking now. In the past, Europe was first, Asia second, and the United States third. Now it's Germany first, India second. 

So, Drupa to Drupa (I know it’s been eight years), what are the labels and packaging market trends, trends in book POD, and photo segments? Any special insights about the Indian market?
Our recent advancements in foil technology have introduced innovative products that significantly enhance transparent packaging. Lightline invisible foils create striking holographic effects on transparent plastics, boosting visual appeal and product distinctiveness. We've also expanded overprinting possibilities to include intricate halftone effects. Our second surface foils, available in double-sided gold and silver, are particularly effective for sleeves. Additionally, our Distorun module enables pioneering single-image 3D effects, adding sophistication and depth to packaging designs.

What are the ways by which the Indian printing industry can leverage these trends?
Indian buyers are more driven towards the quality, price, and visual aesthetics of the product. Hence, buyers and brands seek enhanced decorative options. Multicolour overprinting on foils presents a compelling solution. Utilising gold, silver, and holographic foils can create a diverse range of visually appealing designs, significantly boosting aesthetic appeal. All this, combined with Kurz quality foils, is a force to reckon with.

The ongoing shift to digital printing and rapid advancements in printing technology necessitates significant capital investments. Do you see the print and packaging companies tweaking their investment plans, especially with Drupa 2024?
Visitors at Drupa will be amazed by our live demonstrations of digital machines designed for paper, board, and plastic packaging. These advanced machines offer a single unit's spot and 3D varnishing and foiling capabilities. Engineered for high-speed applications, they deliver precise spot varnish, intricate filigree, solid image applications, and large-format foil and varnish capabilities. This cutting-edge technology will become indispensable for label suppliers, meeting the growing demands of brands.

How do we measure success when it comes to labels and packaging?
The quality of printing, decoration, and packaging design is crucial in attracting consumers. Therefore, converters must adopt innovative and appealing decoration methods to gain a competitive edge.

Your company is showcasing new products and some upgrades at Drupa. Which of the showcases do you think is important for India, and why?
This year's Drupa, after an eight-year hiatus, promises to be a monumental event. We have carefully curated a selection of products to showcase at our booth, including our innovative Silverline 3D holographic foils, Lumafin translucent foils, and digital metal technology. Additionally, we will feature cutting-edge machines like the DM Maxliner 3D and 2D, DM Smart liner, Trust concept for brand protection and decoration solutions, and KTM technology as a replacement for metallised films.

India is an emerging market, and brands are willing to experiment with innovation and decoration techniques to enhance their recall. Hence, Kurz India emphasises the importance of the entire product range and our upgrades, showcased at our booth at Drupa 2024.

Markus Hoffmann: Companies must focus on eco-friendly materials and sustainable packaging

Considering India is a cost-conscious market, Kurz, which in a way is a premium, catering to the Indian market must be a challenge.
I would say you're right to some extent, but also not entirely. Kurz has been present in India for over 25 years. I joined Kurz in 1992, and one of my first business ventures was in India. We have a strong presence there and a good understanding of the Indian market, which is highly competitive and cost-driven. Initially, we were primarily a premium supplier in niche applications, but now our products are widely used, and we offer cost-effective solutions. We recently announced a new product line called EcoFin, which is manufactured in our large factory in Malaysia. This product line offers very economical options for our customers.

Can one protect profits by taking on the fakers? How does your technology help?
At our booth, we are showcasing our patented Trust concept technology for brand decoration and protection. With roots in creating security elements for currency notes, we bring the highest level of security to commercial brand protection. Counterfeiters would need to invest substantial resources to replicate our advanced security features.

In India, book publishing is a growing segment, and POD is a growing trend. The PSPs are looking for affordable options, be it offset or digital. How are your products placed in the publishing industry? What next?
Our foils offer a wide variety of shades for decorating books and diaries, including a special foil for edge gilding, and diary covers. Additionally, our digital metal technology, featuring 2D and 3D varnishing and foiling, delivers exquisite filigree, fine, and solid images, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of books and diaries.

India is one of the Largest consumers of print and publishing segments for hard-bound books, especially religious texts. Kurz is offering a wide variety of decorative solutions through hot stamping and 2D and 3D Digital technology stamping to make them more appealing.

Brands are asking for customisation, sustainability, quality assurances, consistency in colour and finish, and technically fit machinery. Printers and packagers are under tremendous pressure to deliver what brands want but at a price fixed by the brands. What will be your advice to them in India?
As brands increasingly demand innovative decoration, printers and packagers must invest in the latest technology to offer advanced techniques and designs. Customisation and individualisation will enhance customer engagement, while quality and consistency become essential amidst the push for sustainability. Indian brands must adopt the global decoration techniques currently practised by leading international brands.

Many CEOs have a strategic focus on expansion (geographical, capacity, or business). There is a trend to tap into opportunities created by paradigm shifts and the new normal — global focus in light of new supply chain dynamics, sustainable packaging, and augmenting print with digital services are some notable ones. What would be your advice for them? Where will the money come from?
The Indian economy is rapidly growing and gaining global attention. CEOs of multinational companies should capitalise on this by making India a regional hub for manufacturing and services. Capacity expansion can achieve geographic expansion into emerging markets and neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia.

With India's young and skilled talent pool, the country can become a global leader in R&D.

Sustainability is essential. Companies must focus on eco-friendly materials and sustainable packaging. Data analytics is crucial for informed decision-making and optimising products and services. An omnichannel presence is necessary across industries, ensuring quick responses, faster deliveries, and easy order placements.

Funding should primarily come from internal resources like retained profits and asset efficiency, with options for external financing through debt, equity, venture capital, and joint ventures.

CEOs should prioritise consumer feedback, invest in skilled workers, and develop future company leaders.

You've been operating in Europe, which is one of the premier markets for packaging. When you consider a market like India and the products it produces, there's certainly room for improvement for Indian label printers or converters. What strategy should they adopt to enhance their products rather than relying on low-quality options?
When people consider our product, they need to pay attention to its fine details and definition. If we use a little bit of flat gloss gold, it might look primitive and not very sophisticated. India should invest in people who understand design and also in people who understand different cultures. For example, if a company in India manufactures products for L'Oreal, a French brand, they must understand French and European culture to understand why this is important. In addition, Indians need to invest in technology to maintain high quality.

This provides some context for your question. How do we interpret this, and what would we suggest? We recently celebrated our 25th anniversary and invited many customers. People here seem to be resting on the success stories of yesterday, while Indians are focused on achieving the success of tomorrow.

Everyone talks about sustainability, but a collective plan doesn’t seem to exist. What are your views?
Kurz has taken significant strides towards sustainability by implementing measures such as reducing the polyester carrier thickness from 12 to 6 microns, resulting in a 50% reduction in carbon footprints. We actively participate in programs like Recosys, which focuses on collecting and recycling polyester waste. India is increasingly acknowledging its role in sustainability, and we are optimistic about the industry's commitment to this cause.

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