Print Summit 2020: How to run multi-location businesses for horizontal growth and vertical results

The PrintWeek exclusive story, ‘Print Summit 2020: Must-attend sessions’, crisply highlighted how insightful the only panel discussion at Print Summit 2020 is set to transpire with the inclusion of panellists Akshay Kanoria of TCPL Packaging; Pragnyat Lalwani of Seshasai Business Forms; Manish Sharma of Printo and Canvera; and Naresh Kumar Dasari of Macro Media Digital Imaging.

23 Jan 2020 | By Abhishek Muralidharan

(L-r) Naresh Dasari, Pragnyat Lalwani, Iqbal Kherodawala, Manish Sharma, and Akshay Kanoria

What’s common between these top companies and one of the core reasons to bring them together in a panel discussion titled as ‘Horizontal Growth, Vertical Results’ was that all of them have a multi-location presence across the country.

Printo is the largest print chain in the country with 36 stores in six cities. Macro Media Digital Imaging has eight production facilities across the country. Seshasai operates in more than 10 facilities across India. And TCPL has four plants across the country.

The session was a must-attend for any printer who has set sight on geographically expanding his business, as the moderator of the session, Iqbal Kherodawala of Printline Reproductions, raised pertinent questions based on standardisation, similarity of infrastructure and equipment, and most importantly, the strategy behind choosing a new location.  

One question that arises while having multiple units is whether every unit has to be profitable. Dasari said out of his eight units, only one is non-profitable. But it is a strategic location for the company, as it enables them to be in the proximity of its customers belonging to that region.

Lalwani added, “For a customer-centric approach, having locations in the proximity of your customers is essential. For us, since we are associated with variable data printing, we also have to think about our customers’ customers, and so, our pan-India presence becomes vital.”

Sharma said as Printo caters to the retail market, which has a walk-in approach, it becomes important to establish stores which are easily accessible to print buyers. He highlighted how his company caters to the continuous changes in print demand associated with the retail business.

Another critical facet discussed during the panel discussion was whether it is necessary to have the same infrastructure or systems at all the units. Kanoria explained the point using the example of his offset printing business. He said all his units house a similar offset press. What differs is the post-press equipment, which is decided on the basis of the local market demand. For instance, TCPL has incorporated of Braille printing kit to cater to the regions that are dominated by the pharmaceutical market.

Technology goes hand-in-hand with the process. Sharma explained how he has a standardised approach in terms of system at all his store, “At all our units, the calibration checks are standard, which is vital in the print business to avoid problems such as colour variation,” he said. He added that for his company, the focus is more on training and processes.

Lalwani said that being updated with the upgrading technology has been their success mantra as it enables them to carry out de-centralised operations.

Even though a businessman has established multiple units, it's not possible for a person to be in two places at the same time. Dasari said his operations run smoothly without his constant monitoring due to the systems and manpower that are in place. On the other hand, Lalwani highlighted that often business in more about relationships than the product. So it becomes essential for him to personally attend to loyal customers. Kanoria said that involvement in some jobs is imperative to be assured that the standard and quality is maintained.

Overall, the panel discussion elucidated every parameter that is to be considered for deciding on a strategic location.