This article was published in Packaging South Asia in july 2009 issue
The label industry met once again, second time in the month due to an initiative of the new team leading the Label Manufacturers of India (LMAI), at the hotel Orchid in Mumbai on the 27th of June 2009. LMAI organized an awareness meet on National Manufacturing Competitiveness Programme (NMCP) of Government of India for the label printing industry. Mr. K  R Sharma Director MSME (DI, Mumbai), explained the details of the programme and various grants that the Government was offering to the printers. Mr. SVG Nandgopal, Chief General Manager SIDBI (W) Zone, spoke on the credit guarantee funds/trusts for MSME’s. Mr. Vijay Kumar, Director In charge, MSME (DI Indore), summed up by speaking on the credit linked subsidies available. The meet was very well attended and the mood of the printers was upbeat as they felt that the programme was very informative and they stood to benefit by the initiative of the association. The industry has been on the defensive for almost a year now due to an evident slowdown in the aftermath of recessionary trends in the western world. New investments had been put on hold and expenses cut in an effort to stay afloat. All that gradually appears to be changing and there are indications of a definite improvement in the sentiments. Printers are slowly but cautiously beginning to plan new investments. The new thought process doing the rounds is interesting as printers debate on the question, “Did recession actually come to India?” They now seem to be convinced that the slowdown that they experienced may actually have been due to the intense competition that came in due to a spate of new installations in the preceding year. The market still grew but not as much as capacity so the supply increased more then the demand. From the interaction with this elite gathering of label printers, one could easily conclude that investments into new capacity enhancement, has begun. The number of people attending this awareness meet is a proof of a movement in the positive direction. After all you can benefit from a capital subsidy scheme only if you invest. It was an eye opener of sorts, printers divulged that in recent times as many as 20-25 presses were either already installed or are in the process of being installed. Reaching an approximate figure, I estimate that at least four Mark Andy presses (New or pre-owned) have been bought and a similar number are under negotiation, Label Planet has orders for 6 Presses (3 Flexor, 2 intermittent and 1 screen). Gallus, Nilpeter and other brands have made sales but are tight lipped until the equipments are installed. The industry is starting to wipe the frown and smile yet again. Printers are attending events to discuss, share knowledge, network with suppliers and decide on future expansions. J.K  Fineprints, Mumbai, has setup a brand new Label printing factory starting from scratch less then two years ago. They have built a dust-free state of art unit with a fully loaded Gallus, two Orthotecs, two Omega’s, etc. The bigger news comes from Kuldeep Goel of Any Graphics, NOIDA, whose story I have written in the latter half of this column. He has commenced construction of a new factory which will be housed in a 100000 square feet covered area. I am sure this news will encourage those who had put their plans on hold and had decided to wait and watch. The need to get back to the drawing boards, study government grants, talk to financial institutions, interact with customers for new and emerging technical options, has become necessary. Printers need to come out of slumber, shift gears and move ahead because it is now, “time to grow”!Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008