SMI Labels and Packaging Materials

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Christmas is a time of life that fills your heart with elation, hope for miracles to happen, end of hardships and a future full of success. May this day bring to you, all that you yearn for, success, love, peace, good health and above all…Happiness!

“Merry Christmas!”

Saturday, December 10, 2011

FDI in retail, Government defers it, Industry gives a thumbs-up!

While the Manmohan Singh Government has deferred the implementation of their decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in organized multi-brand retail in India, and is still battling it out with its allies and the opposition, I decided to interact with leading players in the Label and Print-Packaging industry to get their views on how this decision will impact their industry and them. The total size of the Indian packaging industry is estimated to be close to 19 Billion US Dollars with a per capita usage of about 15 US Dollars as against the global market size of over 600 Billion Dollars and 100 Dollars per capita usage. The industry continues to grow at a healthy rate of around 17%. With the expected inflow of FDI in retail, this growth is set to get a further boost. The politicians are adamant that the decision will affect their vote banks adversely because they are convinced that the local neighborhood retailer and the farmers will suffer. Contrary to this, the industry leaders are sure that the FDI decision will benefit the farmers with better prices and that the small retailer will stand to be complemented by the presence of organized retailers. They feel, it will drive rapid growth in the packaging industry. . I sent to them a set of questions to answer. I list below the questions and their response. Unanimously they give a “Thumbs Up” to this decision!

Question: Do you feel that this will drive in a boom in the label and packaging industry in India?

Ramesh Kejriwal, Parkson.

“Definitely!” says Ramesh Kejriwal, Managing Director of Parkson Packaging Ltd. He further adds, “The business will move from unorganized converters to organized ones requiring quality and volumes.” Priyata Raghavan at Sai Security Printers, echoes similar views, “Yes, most definitely! It will drive the demand for packaging not only in volumes but also in quality”.

Suresh Gupta PPL

Suresh Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, Paper Products Limited, reiterates, “Modern retail certainly drives modernisation in packaging, i.e. increases demand for quality and standardisation in packaging”. Amar Chhajed, Webtech Labels, one of the largest label printers in the country states, “If FDI in retail becomes a reality, it will give a boost in demand for all kinds of packaging including labels”. Amila Singhvi at International Printo-Pac Ltd. feels that the increase in demand due to FDI in retail will make the industry focus on sustainable packing and shelf ready packs. Viresh Sheth of Kris flexipack is of the opinion that the decision will bring funds and technology to the table. Jigesh Dani of Ahmedabad based Mahrishi Labels is sure that it will create lot of opportunities and improve quality of packaging.

Question: Will it impact the local packaging industry in a positive manner?

India is the worlds’ largest producer of fruits (46 million tons) with a global share of over 10% and second largest producer of vegetables (80 million tons) with a global share of over 15%. In spite these achievements, about 20 to 30% of the produce is lost annually due to lack of adequate infrastructure and less use of modern post harvest technologies. Fresh horticultural produce has limited shelf life ranging from a few hours to few weeks at ambient conditions. Packaging is required not only for food preservation and protection but also for safe transportation of products during storage and handling. FDI is likely to bring in technology in cold chain development, supply chain management and Packaging. The growth in the consumer market due to rapid urbanization has also continued to drive growth in packaging. Small converters have been able to grow substantially due to the opportunities coming their way. With limited existing foreign investment in the packaging sector and the expected boost in demand due to the FDI in retail, packaging companies will also expect foreign investments and alliances. The industry leaders feel that the FDI decision will have a positive impact on the industry.

Viresh Sheth Kris Flexipack

Amar Chhajed feels there is no cause for worry as the Indian packaging industry has upgraded to some extent in recent years. Jigesh Dani comments that it will create competition for local venders however still healthy competition is good. Viresh Sheth believes that it will boost demand and packaging companies need to establish pan national presence to service the retailing giants who are expected to invest. Priyata Raghavan is expecting the larger players, playing a dominant role and lot of international packaging companies joining hands with local converters. Ramesh Kejriwal says, “Yes, the decision will make a positive impact but innovative display values need to be built into packages.”

Question: Will it bring in that expected billions of dollars?

“All major global retailers would like to be present in the growing India market and many will invest. Importantly, in addition to retail footage this will mean investment and training in farm to store logistics infrastructure including cold chains, road-rail-water transport systems, etc. Equally importantly is the fact that standards on nutrition, hygiene and safety in the food chain will be strengthened, and productivity improved.” says Suresh Gupta.

Amila Singhvi

Amar Chhajed, Webtech

Amila Singhvi asserts, “FDI will encourage investment in Indian packaging from multinational players which should be good for the sector as a whole.” Amar Chajjed has expressed thoughtfully, “The first few years will surely see a major inflow of dollars being invested by global retailers to setup stores as well as backend infrastructure. The potential for retail is so huge and untapped in India that it would be a big window of opportunity for most global retailers who are currently experiencing downfall or stagnancy in the developed economies. What needs to be seen is whether this retail boom also translates in boosting the overall manufacturing sector for locally produced goods.” Ramesh Kejriwal is sure that the investment will come. Priyata is not sure if the billions will come however she says, demand will peak before leveling out.

Question: How is the industry geared up to meet this demand?

Priyata Raghavan, Sai Security

“Not really!” says Ramesh Kejriwal “most converters are still using low-end technologies with lot of manual work”. Viresh agrees that the supplier has to be well equipped in terms of technology, quality and presence. Priyata feels that capacity and quality parameters need to be ramped up but good quality of raw materials like paper and board will be a bottleneck for growth. Suresh Gupta is sure that the industry is prepared to scale up to meet the demand as it arises.

Question: Will innovations in packaging become more evident?

“Absolutely!” Says Ramesh Kejriwal. Jigesh Dani is confident that new and innovative ideas will come to shop shelves. Suresh Gupta asserts, “Modern retail formats will certainly drive innovation!” Amila Singhvi says, “Packaging will evolve, we expect to see more of shelf-ready packaging, dispensing options and multi-packs suitable for retail stores.” Viresh agrees, “Packaging being the first handshake with the consumer it will have a significant role in order to break this clutter. This will call for more innovative designs and material”

Bhavin Kothari, Interlabels

It is really interesting to see and realize the confidence of these leading personalities in the field of labels and packaging. Some of these people have grown from a stage where they were just very small start-up ventures and are now large by any standards. The kind of investments that they continue to make has paved the way forward for the Indian packaging industry. The summing up comments of some of them made are quite interesting. Amar Chhajed, “I genuinely believe that the Indian packaging industry has a great future and it must believe in itself. Focusing on Innovation, Value creation and Quality, we can excel against almost anyone in the world.” Jigesh Dani, “Off course as a nation India is emerging very strong and one must not doubt the self sufficiency but if you want it to grow and come out of the shadow, this is welcome step.” Bhavin Kothari of Interlabels, India’s largest label manufacturing company gave interesting comments, “It is very unfortunate that the politicians want not to understand the correct picture. Direct investment in organised retail by the largest corporate houses in India already exists, Tata’s (82billion USD), Reliance (60billion USD), and Aditya Birla (35billion USD). So just because the color of money is different, it is ridiculous to assume there will be problems. The large Indian corporate houses will learn the ropes in matter of time. Further so if any decimation of the ‘kirana’ store is to happen (which I believe will never happen) it will happen without FDI”. Suresh Gupta, “Modern retails will certainly gain market share very fast as it drives much needed modernisation of the retail sector. However, the kirana store will remain the "backbone" of the retail sector, and the Indian consumer will benefit greatly from the "jugalbandi"(duet) between the two formats. Whatever benefits the consumer will benefit the packaging industry” Viresh Sheth, “This will also directly spur infusion of fresh CAPEX (capital expenditure) and high-end technological innovations”

Gautham Pai, Manipal
Tecnologies Ltd.

Gautham Pai, Executive Director of Manipal technologies says," FDI in multi brand retail , in my opinion that is good for the country . The investments in infrastructure , supply chain and technology are long over due .I believe consumers will benefit from a quality , verity and experience perspective . Vendors will benefit from direct sales and efficiency/transparency in the system . Large numbers of jobs will be created . Middle men will suffer . Will boost packaging sector in a big way".

Saket Kanoria, TCPL

Finally to sum it all I got the views of Saket Kanoria, Managing Director of TCPL, “I feel that should FDI in multi brand retail happen, and am sure it will at some point, it will certainly open up lots of doors and opportunities to a host of smaller suppliers who will get access to international chains and give them the potential to scale, as well as export. I think that the political opposition notwithstanding it will be very good for India, consumers and the economy in the long run.” The industry surely has given their thumbs-up for the decision to allow FDI in multi brand retail!
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi. December 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Indians, busy at Labelexpo Europe 2011

Six years ago in 2005 when Weldon Celloplast Limited exhibited at Labelexpo in Brussels, they were the only one Indian exhibitor at the show. Indian visitors at that show were in quite a few numbers but looked more like tourists using Labelexpo as a reason to travel to Europe. They were visible walking around leisurely in the walkways more like window shopping with casual interests. They would drop by at some stands, make enquiries and then move on. Neither were they taken seriously by the high profile exhibitors displaying their expensive equipments nor were they sure of their expansion plans. The world attention was getting to be more concentrated on this huge market with a growing young and literate workforce creating high demand for consumer products. The Indian label market was obviously heading for phenomenal growth. Six years down the lane a lot has changed. Indian label printers have become a confident lot as they are more focused and sure of the path that they wish to traverse in an effort to meet the growing and exacting demands for labels. From a mere one Indian exhibitor in 2005, the 2011 show opened on 28th September 2011, as the largest label show on earth with fourteen Indian exhibitors, up from four in the previous show in 2009. As for the visitors, the Indian label printers have become a sought after segment for the exhibitors. These printers are now transformed into committed buyers, they are seen as business persons with firm plans to empower their companies with the latest printing technologies available anywhere. Instead of being seen as window shoppers in the walkways they were now engaged in serious discussions in the stands of leading material, toolings and equipment manufacturers. No wonder then that a gentleman walked up to me at the exhibition to say, “Not many Indians this time!” I could not answer immediately as at that time even I was wondering why. Earlier this year on the 5th of January 2011 I had predicted and tweeted on twitter, “Labelexpo Brussels will probably see the biggest number of Indian visitors. Indicates high growth in narrow-web label segment. My prediction!”. I started to look around to evaluate the situation myself. I was pleasantly surprised that the Indians, though not visible walking around, they were short of time to cover the most. They were in deep engrossing technical discussion at various stands across the show, meeting prospective suppliers of materials, toolings and equipments. My prediction made at the beginning of this year was true and had become a reality. Michael Hatton, Marketing Director- Labelexpo confirmed to me that in 2009 there were 338 Indian visitors and this figure had swelled to 429 at Labelexpo Europe 2011. There were more Indians then before and the reason that they were not visible waking around is, “They were busy at Labelexpo Europe 2011”.

True to the claim that Roger Pellow and his team made in the pre-show promos, Labelexpo Europe 2011 held from 28th September- 1st October 2011 at Brussels, was the biggest and most successful labelshow in the world till date. The show reported 28636 visitors from 118 countries which is an 18.6% increase over the previous show. The number of exhibitors grew from 544 to 550. It indeed was the largest show in the history of this 30 year old Labelexpo. Adding to the success is the fact that over 81% of the space for next Labelexpo is already booked. The Labelexpo team has been continuously innovating to bring value to visitors patronizing this prestigious show. Besides ensuring a huge number of working presses and equipments, new features like the Digital Printshop and the Package Printing Zone are endeavors to expand the horizon and vision of label printing companies. Most of the exhibitors to the show appeared to be satisfied with the results however some of the exhibitors in Hall 12 felt that due to the sheer size of this growing event and the increasing number of exhibitors, enough visitors did not reach them in the numbers that they were seen in first few halls. For this reason there is a strong debate that the show should be extended for one more day in future. Some exhibitors also aired the view that the venue should be moved to another location in Europe. Personally I feel such specialized events are linked to particular venues and cities and moving them may become counter-productive. Anyway it is for the organizers to decide but as for now the next Labelexpo will still be at Brussels.

Roger Pellow & Jade Grace of Labelexpo Group
with Raul Sylvestre of Lartec
End of the show quotes are an important part of any show and indicates the level of success it has achieved. Many exhibitors have expressed their satisfaction at the show. Jakob Landsberg of Nilpeter expressed, “Labelexpo Europe 2011 was more successful than we dared to hope for. In the current financial climate, our industry looks forward more optimistically than the rest of the world” UPM’s representative echoed similar views, ”Despite the challenging economic situation surrounding Europe these days, Labelexpo Europe 2011 nevertheless brought out the collective drive and enthusiasm in the industry. We saw plenty of people poised to push the label to the limit and we liked that!” Gavin Jones, Tectonic International Ltd said: “Labelexpo Europe is always a great shop front for our range of products and this year was no exception!” Cristina Toffolo of Gidue reports success with their innovative product range. In words of Jason Oliver Sales Director, EFI, “I’d simply say that we at EFI Jetrion were completely overwhelmed by the show.” It was heartening to see Ranesh Bajaj of Creed Engineers and Pawandeep Sahni of Weldon proudly beaming when Rotatek and Omet put up the signs on the presses displayed at their stand as sold to their customers in India. Rotatek was sold to Update Prints in New Delhi and two Omets were sold, one to Unique offset Mumbai and the second to Arunodaya Hyderabad. Other press suppliers may also have finalized deals for India but they did not respond to my email requesting information. Leading press manufacturers like Gallus, Mark Andy, Omet, MPS, Edale, Delta Industrial, Orthotec, etc had well attended stands and all felt that the show delivered the desired results. Ajay Mehta of SMI, the leading Indian Labelstock manufacturer is overwhelmed by the quality of visitors at his stand, he felt it was the right platform for his company to find recognition in the international markets. Young KD Sahni at Weldon feels his new and innovative security label products could not have found a more appropriate event to showcase. Amit Ahuja, the only Indian label press manufacturers to have ever exhibited with a working press at Labelexpo, was very busy for the entire duration of the show and carries home a whole lot of leads to work on. The press on display has been sold to a customer in Moscow, Russia. Indian label film manufacturers Cosmo films and Polyplex too reported a steady stream of visitors.

Kurt Walker, President-Finat
 Finat, the international association of the self adhesive label industry has played an important part in the success of Labelexpo. This event also marked the 20th year of partnership with this event organizer. In words of Kurt Walker President Finat, “ In all respects, this has been the best show ever” Jules Lejuene Managing Director Finat concludes, “The Finat booth saw hectic activity and was the meeting point for many luminaries of this industry”.

The Global label awards function and gala dinner, held on the sidelines of Labelexpo was a grand event before an audience of 550, the awards celebrate and honor those who promote best practice in the label industry. Some of the label industry’s leading companies and individuals were recognized for their outstanding contribution to the sector as the winners of this year’s Label Industry Global Awards.

Mike Fairley, Helmut Schreiner and
Dean Scarborough CEO Avery Dennison
  Helmut Schreiner, executive manager/owner of the Schreiner Group, was given the R. Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Avery Dennison. The Label Industry Award for Continuous Innovation – sponsored by Labels & Labeling, NarroWebTech and Label & Narrow Web – was presented to Brazil's Novelprint. EskoArtwork triumphed in the Label Industry Award for New Innovation category which is designed to underline technological advances made in the previous year. A host of other winners were also awarded at the function which was interspaced with good entertainment followed by a great dinner. Dean Scarborough, CEO of Avery and Mike Fairley were an important part of the deliberations at this function.

The LMAI Team
 The Indian Label industry was well represented at this exhibition. Leading the industry’s presence was the Label Manufacturers association of India(LMAI), President Vivek Kapoor. Most of the members of his team were also in Brussels for the event. Vivek and his team have created a very positive atmosphere in the association. The recent events like the GOA conference has brought unity in the industry and instilled a sense of camaraderie. Normally at the previous labelexpo’s I noticed that Indian printers would pass by their counterparts in the Indian industry in the walkways by giving a symbolic nod or a smile. This time around the bonding was evident, you could see the Indian printers standing in small groups discussing what was good and must-see at the show. These small and important get-togethers helped them reach their target exhibitors without wasting time. Printers from across the length and breadth of India were seen moving around. If it was Update Prints, Anygraphics, Zircon and Prakash Labels from North India, the west had an entourage from Creative labels, Renault paper, Webtech, Interlabels, PPL, Total print, Ajanta, Unique, Mahrishi Labels and many more. South Indians were also present in substantial no.s, Wintek, SGRE and Global from Bangalore, ITC from Chennai, Pragati and Arunodaya from Hyderabad, Raveendran from Sivakasi and so on. The list is long. This pan national representation conveyed the seriousness and firm resolve of the label industry in India to take the growth challenge head-on. These printers are now more than willing to invest, expand, innovate and globalize. They are shopping for the best equipment from presses to inspection systems, no wonder they were busy at Labelexpo.

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi. October 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Packaging Grows as India Grows!

I have always been of the opinion, “it is the package that sells!” Every manufacturer of consumer goods realizes that good quality is imperative for long term success of the product. However it is an immediate and important need to first tempt the shopper to impulsively lift the product from the shop shelf. For this the manufacturers have to rely on the package design. The consumers get to experience the contents of the package only when they have reached the confines of their homes. It is another issue that repeat sale will happen when the customers find the product contents are meeting with their satisfaction. Thus it is necessary that a good product is packaged in an attractive and effective packaging. With the urbanized Indian consumer’s style of shopping undergoing a sea change from visiting traditional shops for buying goods to patronizing organized retail vends in air-conditioned ambience, packaging is getting the attention it should.

The current economic scenario and changing lifestyles in India are attracting the interest of many around the world. By the latest count, the Indian population crossed the figure of 1.20 billion people. In the last decade the addition to the population has been 181 million people, almost near to the total population of Brazil, the fifth most populous country in the world! India accounts for 17.5% of the world’s population. The Indian economy is growing rapidly, registering an 8.5 % growth in GDP. It is second most favored country for foreign direct investment (FDI) attracting an investment of US$ 25.9 billion in 2009-2010. Foreign exchange reserves have reached a figure exceeding US$ 276 billion. According to a report by McKinsey, the economy will grow five fold in 20 years. India is the biggest democracy in the world with a large English speaking population of which 64.8% is literate leading to a bulging middle class segment. Couple this with the fact that 64% of all the people in the country are in the workable age group of 15-59 years and 54% of the population is under the age of 25 years. This huge number of over 600 million young people will be getting education, working hard and earning more to spend more. It is obvious that retail spending in India is poised to grow exponentially.

According to the report, “Strong & Steady, 2011” Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), India’s retailing sector currently estimated at US$ 500 billion is expected to grow to US$ 900 Billion by 2014. According to some reports, in two years retail real estate stock in India will become double, from approx. 50 million square feet to almost 100 million square feet. The Indian retail industry is the fifth largest in the world and is growing at a fast pace. Rapid urbanization and higher spending power of a young generation are factors contributing to this amazing growth. It is interesting to note that due to the changes taking place, the large number of working women in an otherwise traditionally conservative society, are also responsible for this growth in spending. Retailing in the country is still at a nascent stage and it will be some time before it becomes the predominant and accepted way of selling across the nation. Most of the Indian consumers are used to the idea of visiting the traditional neighborhood stores for their needs. The shop owner is virtually the pushing salesperson for the brands that provide him better margins. As organized retailing becomes more and more acceptable, shoppers are experiencing the difference. There is a wide variety of products lying on the shop shelves yearning for their attention. The persistent shop owner pushing particular brands is missing. At this point in time the printed package is of prime importance. Innovative packaging tempts the shopper to reach for the product.

The highly fragmented Indian packaging industry is spread evenly across the length and breadth of India. The total industry size is estimated at US$ 19 billion as against the global market of US$500 million. The per capita usage of packaging in India is small at US$ 15.00 per person as compared to a global average of US$ 100.00. This does indicate the potential for growth in this market. According to Indian Institute of Packaging, the packaging industry in India is growing at a rate in excess of 15% per annum. However some industry experts express that the growth is much higher at 20-22%. Food and beverage account for 85% of packaging materials consumed in India, Pharmaceuticals 10% and balance 5% is other industries. Close to 50% of all the packaging materials used is converted into the printed packages, flexible packaging accounts for 22%, printed cartons 17%, Labels 3% and others about 8%. The rest of the 50% materials are accounted for by rigid packaging, metal, glass, caps/closures and others. The printed cartons and labels have been largely printed and converted by the offset printers employing various die-cutting, converting and decorating operations offline. The offset printing industry is well established in the country and has spread all over. This segment attracts continuous investment, expansion and up gradation. Self adhesive labels remain the forte and specialization of the narrow web label printers, who continue to grow, expand and technically upgrade steadily. In this segment the technology changed from letterpress printing process to flexographic printing and further on to combination printing using various printing and converting processes online with their narrow web presses. These include flexo, offset, screen, hot foiling, cold foiling, etc. Flexible packaging and Shrink sleeves are other segments of package printing that have attained a big market size owing to a steady 17% growth rate in recent years. The industry in these segments has been employing only the rotogravure printing in their manufacturing programme. The rotogravure printing industry is also well established and growing in India. It is the preferred technology for converting on wide web presses, providing economies of scale with high production speeds. Of late due to the need for shorter runs, faster deliveries and multi-process converting, the narrow web press suppliers are going wider to mid web presses with advanced multi process capabilities and offering these equipments to printers. These are high end presses that empower the printer to print and convert labels, folding cartons, shrink sleeves and flexible packing inline on the same press. It is just a matter of time when we shall see a paradigm shift in this direction.

As for the materials, with growth in the food and beverage industry the demand for specialized films and film laminates has escalated. In recent times due to environmental concerns the Indian authorities have restricted the use of plastics in certain large volume food packaging. The directive to use bio-degradable substrates has initiated a need to develop paper based substrates that will fill the void that this restriction has created. While the market for special films will continue to grow, social responsibility commitment towards a safer environment will lead the packaging industry to look for new and safer arenas. Waste management and recycling are also issues that need the converters attention. Producing a great package may bring in a lot of success but the effort to reduce the impact of packaging waste on earth, will bring satisfaction.

Written for the innaugral issue of Package Print Worldwid (PPW) magazine launched by Tarsus group at Labelexpo-Euroe 2011, Brussels, Belgium. by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi India 19th June 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Winning awards for excellence in printing, a way of life!

He has reached the pinnacle! Having lead his company Pragati Offset Hyderabad, to unprecedented success, he does not regret that a 12 hour work schedule from 8.30 am to 8.30 pm leaves him no time to socialize. That is the price that he paid for his indulgence in his business. He is happy that God has compensated this adequately by giving him the pleasure of coming back home each evening to a wonderful family where four generations from his father to his grandchildren, live together in perfect tradition of love, harmony and simplicity. Paruchuri Narendra is the driving force behind Pragati Offset, a company founded by his father Paruchuri Hanumantha Rao.

On the 1st of September 1962, Hanumanth Rao who after completing his BA Hons. (philosophy), a short stint as a journalist with Visala Andhra and five years as manager of Sarathi Cine Studios also doing small roles in films out of which some even with the late N T RamaRao, set up a small printing press with one treadle press and three workers. The three men that he employed were a binder, a composer and a machine man. Surprising as it may sound two of these men are still associated with is company even after almost 50 years, though only in advisory capacity.

Hanumantha Rao

Hanumantha Rao had some basic knowledge of printing from his time spent at printing detective novels written by his friend Narayana Rao in Chennai. Also he was a quick learner and does not shy from saying that he learnt and grasped well from his otherwise trained workers. He fondly remembers the first job he printed was a folder with Ganesha on it! The first big order that came his way was the 1973 voters list. Thereafter it was always the way ahead to be traversed and soon he bought his first offset press, a second hand single colour OM-4 Russian Offset Press. He vowed to be a quality producer and set standards that would be the way forward for his company. The foundation had been laid and the journey into excellence in printing had begun. It was time to induct more working hands in this business.

Narendra, Hanumanth Rao’s elder son had studied to be a chemical engineer from the University of Mysore specializing in precious metal plating for the watch and electronic industry. On completing education he took up a job in a metal finishing company in Bangalore to get work experience. He was not very happy in that job, he wanted to start a metal finishing unit on his own and moreover his wife Sasikala, a doctor was pursuing higher studies in Hyderabad. Having no money to start on his own, Narendra started to look around for other avenues. At that point of time he requested his father to show him some other successful printing press. Once he had evaluated the printing business, Narendra gave up his plans to pursue the plating business and finally joined his family business in 1978. There has been no looking back ever since. A turning point in the journey of this enterprise came when they bought a photocomposing machine, which was the first one that any company bought in south India besides the printers of the daily south Indian newspaper, “Hindu”. Composing, until that time used to be the biggest of bottle necks in their business, given the short runs that they were doing for customers. This installation brought all the advertising agencies in the city to their doorstep. With this came a windfall of orders and it was time to expand yet again. They decided to buy a new single colour Dominant press. Those days licenses were required to import and Narendra’s father fondly remembers that the day his grandson Harsh was born, they applied for the license. In 1985 Pragati acquired their first four colour offset press but they were formally considered big league when in 1991 they announced the installation of a Komori Lithrone 5 colour 40” press to be inaugurated by Mr. Kasturi, the owner of “Hindu”. Pragati was now into printing of posters, catalogues and other commercial printing jobs. They continued to expand and grow thereafter also making their foray into folding cartons. In 2006 Narendra and his team saw the potential and growth in labels. This made them to decide making investment in that area as well. As they had already ventured into producing cartons for some large customers this label business was in synergy with what they were doing and was witnessing a high rate of growth. The present level of operations at Pragati, have come a long way from the time that they installed their first treadle press with just three workers. They employ almost 700 people and operate out of 2,30,000 square feet of production area spread over at various premises in and around Hyderabad. Everything from pre-press to post-press is done in house. The infrastructure besides other equipment comprises of twelve offset presses, two MPS label presses, one Nilpeter Label press and the latest acquisition, Omet Varyflex the in line folding carton press. When asked about the new investment in Omet Varyflex, the first one of its kind in India, Narendra says, “It was a wish to do all operations in-line rather then moving jobs from one equipment to another, carton making involves too many offline operations”. Luckily they had gained experience in flexographic printing from their indulgence in labels, offset was already their forte and they were also producing cartons, so it was easy for them to integrate the technologies comfortably on the Varyflex.

The ethics, values, commitments and team spirit instilled in the entire Paruchuri family are amazing. Their involvement in their business is total. In his endeavour to sustain the high level of competence and growth, Narendra is supported by his brother Mahendra who apart from keeping the machine in ship shape, shares the management hat. Harsh his elder son who is a printing engineer and an alumni of the prestigious Rochester institute having specialized in printing technologies and Hemanth his younger son also a mechanical engineer from Purdue are heading the labels division. Of course the towering personality of P Hanumantha Rao is also there to support them, he still spends some time in the press before moving on with his involvement in social and charitable work. His social work has had the family actively contributing to the society by helping in constructing a community hall, an old age home and providing scholarships to needy students. Narendra’s wife Sasikala is a doctor specializing in laparoscopic surgery. She also does her bit to give back to the society. For the past 18 years she has been running a free clinic, Pragati Public Charitable Trust, every Thursday at village Mokila, some 30 km from Hyderabad. The clinic has almost 18,000 registered patients as of date. Her daughter in law, Shruti (Harsh’s wife), even though she has two school going children contributes her might. Besides being the perfect hostess at home to special guests she also helps out in the purchase department of Pragati. Truly a committed family with three generations actively involved in business and the fourth generation growing up to gather the reigns, eventually.

The Pragati team receiving the Sappi Elephant award
for excellence in printing.

Narendra is a tireless work-alcohalic. While he follows a 12 hours work regime from 8.30 to 8.30 yet he says that I am available for my team at least up to 10 pm. No wonder that the company reports 12%-15% annual growth in the offset segment and 25%-30% annual growth in the packaging segment that includes labels. He strongly feels that the MIS system implemented in 1992 helped fuel this growth. When asked about his plans and projections in the next five years. He is very clear in his thought, says that the company’s resolve to excel in print quality and deliver value to customers since inception has made it possible for it to become a zero debt company which continues to grow. The inertia of growth levels already achieved and the opportunities as and when they emanate, will automatically drive us into continuous expansion in the times to come. In his leadership, Pragati has been the recipient of many international awards for print excellence. Topping the long list of awards they won is the Sappi Elephant award for excellence in printing in 2006, 2008 and 2010. In 2010 Narendra wanted his father to receive the award personally. Since his father was not fit to travel, the organizers, as a befitting mark of respect to the founder of this press, P Hanumantha Rao came all the way to Hyderabad to honour him. The three generations of this family are not resting on their laurels, they strive hard to retain the saga at Pragati, “Winning awards for print excellence, is a way of life!”

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi August 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

LMAI Conference, “Innovations Unlimited” delivered with “Fun Unlimited!”

LMAI Team L to R: Harveer Sahni, Amit Sheth, R Deshpande, Sandeep Zaveri, Gururaj,Manish Desai, Vivek Kapoor,
Ajay Agarwal, Jigesh Dani, Ajay Mehta and missing from the picture is Ranesh Bajaj
Group "Drum Cafe"

As the African drummers on stage from the group, “Drum Café” started to hammer on the skins of their drums, a hall fully packed with those from the Indian label fraternity were a confused lot. These delegates to the first ever LMAI conference titled, “Innovations Unlimited” had surprised all in the industry by their overwhelming response. The event was overbooked and there were no more rooms available despite taking up rooms in adjoining and nearby hotels. Immediately after registration the delegates were asked to come for the first two hour session of presentations at the conference hall. Two hours later, the audience was ready for some fun. When they saw just a handful of drummers on stage, the confusion was obvious. Music is a very important part of every Indian’s life. From birth to wedding and till death, all ceremonies are completed with music. We pray and we sing with music. We are happy, we need music. We are sad, we still need music. Drums! They are traditionally used as an accompaniment to instruments like harmonium, sitar, guitar, violin, piano, flute, etc. so the drums alone were certainly a cause of some amount of confusion.

Drumbeats by your's truly!
Twenty minutes later, the hall was vibrating! Euphoria prevailed. Everyone in the hall was given separate drums and the leader of the group, “Drum Café” started to teach the audience giving them beats to follow him. Soon all in the audience were hitting the drums with fervor and unison.  They were ecstatic and enjoying every moment. Their hands hurt and throats went hoarse, yet they craved for more fun. The LMAI conference “Innovations Unlimited” had begun, the fun promised also appeared to be “Unlimited”.

When the event was conceptualized, the LMAI team was very optimistic and eager to hold the conference at Goa. As we came closer to the date of the event it became a little uneasy situation as even the event managers had not been finalized. Somewhere around the end of January 2011, Vivek Kapoor the LMAI President pressed the panic buttons. What followed is a concentrated build up to an amazing event. Vivek called all in his team across India daily and talked for hours. All of us still joke, “Vivek has free telephone lines”. The team gelled together, worked hard and what evolved months later will be a part of history of label in this country.
Raveendran (Seljegat) & Hemanth(Pragati)

Once the African drummers had delivered, the bar was thrown open, liquor flowed and it was networking all around. People were meeting colleagues in the industry and also striking new relationships. The virtual who is who of the label industry was there to party.

Anil Sharma CEO Avery Dennison, interacting with guests.

Anil Sharma the CEO of Avery Dennison India, who were the platinum sponsors, lead his team to welcome the delegates. Other sponsors included Rotatek-Creed, Esko Artwork, DuPont, Kurz, Mark Andy, Flint Group, Heidelberg-Gallus, label Planet-Orthotec, Nilpeter, Gidue-Reifenhauser and SMI. Important foreign visitors were seen mixing with printers. Notably besides the sponsors, there were representatives from UPM-Raflatac, Omet, A B Graphics, Lintec, Alphasonics, Rotometrics and many other international companies. Vivek and his team, with the help of event organizers Tranquil world had put up a great event. The selected venue Park Hyatt is a property par excellence. The ambience added to the fun of being in Goa, a location that the world loves to be in. It is like good music that tempts you to start dancing.

Federico from Gidue
 Presentations at the conference had interesting content Ajay Mehta, SMI spoke on success stories, Jean Pierre-Esko spoke on security and anti counterfeiting while Kelvin Boon Tai made a presentation on plate making technologies. Press manufacturers who made presentations included Bhrigav Jain on behalf of Label Planet, Jeff Feltz- Mark Andy, Federico d’Annunzio-Gidue, Dilip Shah-Nilpeter, Kishore Sarkar-Gallus,

Ranesh Bajaj, Creed Engineers.

Michael Bethge, Ahlstrom

Ranesh Bajaj-Rotatek and Itsik Krief-HP. Other presenters were Keith Montgomery-ABG, Wolfgang Burkard-Kurz, George Lyle-Flint Group, and the last presentation on recycling of siliconised liner came from Michael Bethge of Ahlstrom.
L to R: Roger Pellow, Amit Sheth, Mike Russel, Manish kapoor
Bibiana, Federicao, Itsik Krief, Kishore Sarkar

Roger Pellow, managing director of the Labelexpo group chaired a panel discussion on various printing processes. I have been to numerous conferences around the world, seldom have I seen the audience so committed and engrossed. Despite being at a destination that beckons them to its beaches, the delegates stayed glued to their seats in the conference hall.


Many a delegates yearned to go out and experience this holiday destination but I guess they postponed it for the last day before they left back home. As the conference came to an end, it was time to party yet again. The delegates were given two hours to rest and change into casual attires while the organizers reset the venue.

The LMAI team had targeted the number of delegates at 125 and they were not sure if that was achievable. A joint and concentrated effort brought in a stream of bookings and the target was revised to 160. Inching closer to the event the bookings crossed 200. Thereafter it appeared totally unmanageable. Booking were closed at 220 but more prospective delegates were persistent and brought references to put pressure on the LMAI team. Despite refusing so many people the final count at the event was 270! The organisers had on their hands a gigantic task. Gifts for all, comfort for all and fun for all. Pooja Ghai and her Tranquil world, the event company, delivered well!

Manasi Scott

When the guests returned to a new setting in the hall, few moments later bollywood entertainer Manasi Scott made a grand entry. She set the mood by getting the label community on to the dance floor. What followed was mind boggling, the hands were up, the feet were tapping on a jam packed dance floor.

The women on stage!

From Manasi the DJ took over and it was fun all the way.

Balle Balle! Sandeep Zaveri and Pawandeep Sahni

Simultaneously the bar was also thrown open. Delegates from around the world were happy and enjoying their time in Goa. Competitors, printers, suppliers and buyers, all were celebrating like one global family.

Kishore Sarkar-Gallus, Paolo Grasso-Omet and Harveer Sahni

Cheers!!! They were partying hard, dancing, enjoying the camaraderie and creating wonderful memories.

Rajesh Chadha Wah Kya dance hai!

It appeared to be an unending evening when I realized it was almost 2am and I decided to leave. When I left people were still at the bar and on the dance floor experiencing the “Fun Unlimited”.

PS: I have posted pictures that were in my own camera.Once I have the official CD, I will post more pictures or change some. Till then enjoy these!

Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008, India 5th August 2011.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Indian Label Printers make a beeline for the Goa Conference!

Vivek Kapoor

History is being created! The first conference being organized by LMAI, Label Manufacturers Association of India, is to be held at Hotel Park Hyatt, Goa in three days time from July 29th to 31st, 2011. The president of the association Vivek Kapoor and his team appear to be a stressed lot in effort to deliver their best, yet in their hearts they are ecstatic! They have worked hard to deliver a great networking event. The response is overwhelming. The industry looks forward to network and gel with colleagues.

When the project was conceptualised, not many believed that they would succeed. Success will eventually be viewed after the conference has been held. I will try and post the complete report with pictures by the end of next week. It is an event that promises to be comparable to the best in the world. Being the nascent attempt by a young association and having reached such levels of success lapses if any need to be overlooked.I personally believe that given the level of commitment the event will leave the world label fraternity in awe.

Hotel Park Hyatt, Goa

The target to achieve appeared optimistic, 100 rooms and  maybe 150 delegates and Lo! the result is incredible!!! Rooms ? Not available and God knows how many more are needed... Delegates? The venue can accommodate 180 and it is over 240 confirmed delegates! It is really amazing, there is a a long waiting list. As for the speakers at the conference, it is the virtual who is who of the leading providers to the international label industry. More on that in my post conference report.

LMAI Executive Committee in action

Kudos to Vivek and his team! Cheers Goa, here we come!

Posted by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi on 26th July, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Label Industry makes an impact at PackPlus South 2011

Earlier this month from the 1st to 4th of July 2011, PackPlus South 2011 was held at the Hytex Exhibition Centre Hyderabad. With over 250 exhibitors, the organizers as expected were very optimistic about the success of the show.

Mahrishi Labels Ahmedabad at the show

As mentioned earlier by me that, owing to the organisers' past association with the label industry, a sizable presence from this industry was expected.

PragatiPack, Hyderabad

  They, the constituents of the label industry, did show up in substantial numbers. The Packaging industry and also the label industry in India is evolving to reach global standards and the consumer product  growth driven by a fast growing young and literate population to amazing levels is yearning to find new and innovative packaging solutions.

The crowds,they just kept coming
It is indeed surprising and a matter of record that a show which was dubbed as a regional show and expected to have limited success turned out to be stunner! Over 12000 visitors came to visit the exhibits on display. It was amazing to see the long ques at the registration counters even close to the day end. This is an evident indication of the development of entrepreneurial endeavors in the interiors of India. Indians are venturing out to explore the avenues they can indulge in.

Weldon Stand

Label industry also made their impact with not just industry suppliers exhibiting but also leading label printers like Pragati Hyderabad, SGRE Bangalore, Maharshi Ahmedabad, Sai Security Bangalore, GMG Hyderabad and many more were seen displaying their products at their stands at the show.

Creed Engineers

Industry suppliers  like Creed Engineers, Intergraphic, Weldon Celloplast, Reifenhauser, etc were exhibiting their offerings for the label industry.

Harveer Sahni

On the sidelines of this show a highly succesful and interesting conference "Package 2011" was held at the Novotel Hotel. Noted speakers from acroos the packaging industry made extremely informative presntations. Harveer Sahni, of Weldon Celloplast and Ranesh Bajaj of Creed Engineers were prominent speakers from the Indian label industry.

It indeed was a pleasure to hear a young Label printer Hemanth Paruchuri from Pragatipack Hderabad deliver an excellent presentation.

Amit Sheth of Label Planet at the nerworking evening

A grand networking evening held at Hotel Taj Banjara brought together the leaders from the label and packaging industry. A very well attended high profile evening!

Compiled by Harveer Sahni Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi-110008