The August session of BMPA's Share to Benefit could provide an indication about the health of the industry. Most of the 18 members who attended the meeting at the 5 August at the BMPA Secretariat stated print output figures tallied with expectations, orders were up higher and the printing plants reported "busy July". In an informal discussion most there was cautious optimism among printers for Q2.

07 Aug 2015 | By Ramu Ramanathan

The STB forum had two new members for 2015-16, Ashutosh Aggarwal of Poornima Printers and Ashok Jain of Akar Limited. Plus Jatin Vasandani from Reprographic and Printing Services in Secunderabad who was a guest.
“The general feeling in Mumbai is that there is work there; companies are pretty busy and there are orders coming in and the volume is holding up,” said Dev Nair, president of the All Indian Federation of Master Printers.
“There was a slight recovery in margins, which is something that hasn’t happened in a while. Companies have taken the time to look at how they’re running their own operations to increase efficiency and they will need to keep doing that," he added.
Falling print prices arising from intense competition for new business was the number one concern among members, with some of them questioning the role of print management firms as well the problems due to e-auction.
Competitors pricing below cost remains a main business concern, with most of the STB members citing it in their top three, followed by concern over the level of output prices and under-utilisation of capital equipment.
Faheem Agboatwala, chairman of the STB and president of the BMPA, said: "The major concern continues to be print firms under pricing. But we are seeing robust business performance from those companies refusing to join in downward pricing spirals enabling them to invest and grow their market positions. It is hoped that more companies will follow suit."
At the STB session business confidence was high, with a majority reporting that market activity rose in Q2 and most members expecting an uptick in activity in Q3.
This confidence is reflected in printers' investment plans, with half the members currently investing in plant and machinery or % reporting an increase in investments or expansion into a new vertical or plant.
After the one hour discussion of highs, lows and discoveries, the stage was set for Fred Poonawala of Comart.
In his 90-minute talk-through Poonawala highlighted in a surprisingly down-to-earth was what his 500-staff multi-city pre media firm did to get control of colour reproduction plus the innumerable .
He stated, how in the past few years, Comart has tried to identify the common problems, and then tried to address them.
He said, “In most cases the problems are with the original files supplied by the clients, another concern is the choice of the substrate and half the problems are with on-press process control."
Poonawala felt the biggest source of problems are on-press. 
“There are still printers measuring by eye and hunch – they don’t trust the tools,” said Poonawala.
He explained how Comart worked with top brands and their pan India campaigns; and found it tough to keep colour consistent across hoardings, retails shops and substrates. 
“Many brands and agencies have realised we are the colour experts, so they leave the files with us,” he said. 
Today, Comart is recognised as one of the largest pre-media and print company in India. The group of companies is headquartered in Mumbai with offices in Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Kolkota. The production hub in Mumbai has 20,000 square sq/ft of digital hub and connected to Bengaluru via a high-speed data network that easily integrate 300-strong workforce with client production facilities anywhere in the world.
Comart’s core service offerings have traditionally been in the area of digital pre-press for advertising, publishing and packaging markets. The capabilities in print include digital short-run printing, commercial sheet and web offset and speciality print requirements for indoor signages and large-format outdoor media. Data services enable creation, storage, management and digital distribution of media and graphic assets. Comart also offers high-volume digitisation of archived media. The company has a dedicated team and infrastructure to handle back-office operations from layout and design, pre-press activities.