The history of Rajesh Chadha, Managing Director of Update Prints Pvt. Ltd., which owes its inception and inheritance to P C Chadha & Co. started by his grandfather, is an interesting one. The first thoughts on letterpress, managing waste problems and family support were all highlights along the way that came on a journey from Kobe in Japan to New Delhi in India, following is the Indian Label converter’s history and thoughts for the future.

Update Factory
Update Factory

The very beginning

In the late 1970s and early 1980s driving on the western part of New Delhi’s Ring Road, many factories could be seen from far away. One such tall building was the factory of P C Chadha & Co. in the Naraina Industrial Area with a signboard on top visible from far. Around the mid-1980s when I was a commercial siliconiser selling release papers, I came to know that P C Chadha & Co. manufactured stickers and was a prospective customer. It was then a matter of time before I supplied some reams of release paper to them. During one of my visits to them, I spent two hours discussing why the stickers they were supplying were curling. I was quite naïve then but with time and experience, I have written on my blog a very widely read article on controlling curl. The young man I met was Rajesh Chadha, who was running P C Chadha & Co. and is the present Managing Director of Update Prints Pvt. Ltd. which owes its inception and inheritance to P C Chadha & Co. started by his grandfather.

 Starting up

In 1924, young P C Chadha, living in Kobe, Japan, initiated an enterprise producing paper transfer labels with a vision that branding would be an important tool for sales of any consumer product, label being the face of any product. Sometime in the midst of turbulent times during World War II in 1942–43, P C Chadha decided to return to his homeland in Rawalpindi, then a part of undivided India and now in Pakistan. Little did he realize that in yet another five years he would have to move again! At the time of India’s partition in 1947 he came to Mumbai to set up his production for maintaining continuity in his passion for producing transfers, the labels of that time. Chadha soon came to recognise that the weather in Mumbai was not suitable for his product, and he moved operations to Pune. Before long he was still restless at the location and travelled up North in India to Patel Nagar in New Delhi where he set up his factory on a 150 square yards plot. He initially worked from home and later from his small factory.

As an entrepreneur’s son, the author had seen his father get advertisement boards hand painted by artists for advertising their stationery products. There was no alternative then. When one saw the transfer labels one used to wonder how they could achieve such exquisite printing direct on sewing machines, postal vans, crockery etc. Years later as the label industry was evolving into screen printing, I saw the same exquisite type of printing, which was different from screen printing, in my cousin’s factory making automotive filters. I realised they were using transfer labels like the ones P C Chadha & Co. produced. I was amazed to learn that the process employed by Chadha for printing was lithography. Based on the principle that oil and water do not mix, printing is done using stone blocks. In 1950 P C Chadha was joined in the business by his son Tilak Raj Chadha. They bought a used lithographic printing machine from England to expand their paper transfers business. Evolving further they later shifted to printing on cylinder type printing press using Zinc blocks mounted on wooden bases.

Major changes

Major changes started to happen when P C Chadha’s grandson Rajesh Chadha joined the business in 1976. The same year they moved factory from Patel Nagar to a 600 square yards plot in the nearby Naraina Industrial Area. With Rajesh at the helm, in 1978 he started to produce stickers by the manual screen-printing process. For the next ten years screen printing business became the mainstay for Chadhas. One of the first major decisions taken by Rajesh Chadha was to buy a European automatic Svecia Screen printing machine to print a full 20” x 30” sheet, quite big for that time. The 1990s was a very eventful decade for the Indian label industry. It was the time when many of today’s stalwarts in the Indian label industry became visible. For Rajesh Chadha also, it was time to shed the conventional image and adopt a modern look. It was during this period that the conventional sticker became an engineered label. Rajesh set up Update Prints in 1994 as his flagship venture thereon, gradually taking over all the business of P C Chadha & Co, which was eventually wound up later in 2009. Sensing the need to modernize with faster machines at Update Prints; he bought his first rotary flexo label press, a ”Focus“. There was no looking back after this.

Investments

In 2001 he bought an Orthotec intermittent letterpress at Labelexpo Asia held in Singapore. Two years later he impulsively bought a Rotatek label press displayed at a New Delhi print exhibition, on an immediate payment basis in full, taking his industry colleagues by surprise. Update Prints under his leadership has been acquiring new state-of-the-art equipment at regular intervals. From the single 600 square yards factory the company was soon operating from three different plots, one of 1000 square yards and two of 600 square yards. It was now time to consolidate for a few years. In another strategic move in 2013, Update Prints moved all their manufacturing operations under one roof to a facility admeasuring almost 25,000 square yards in land area and 50,000 square feet shop floor. This exercise required the involvement of a huge amount of money, time, effort and commitment. The land was designated agricultural land. Setting up an industrial project on it was illegal. Many people in the area have done it but Rajesh Chadha is committed to tread the straight path. He got the land use changed to industrial. Any Indian will know the kind of effort and time this takes. Infrastructure was another problem; the nearest power feeder was far away and to expedite the matter of bringing power to the unit, Update Prints had to install 50 electricity poles at their own expense. The approach road to the unit was in shambles, it had to be re-laid at their own expense. Update Prints now employs over 100 workforce and has a total of eight label presses.

Diverse technologies

Reminiscing about his work in the initial days in labels he says, ”The first label that I created was for Yardley Cosmetics“ he further adds that in those days he had bought two Newfoil three station hot-foiling presses. He used to love working with them creating innovative products. It was the most satisfying part for him because he could imagine and then create labels that would get appreciation from buyers. He has over the years equipped Update Prints with diverse technologies in label printing, decorating and finishing. Whether it is offset printed labels printed on his Rotatek Brava or labels created on flexo, letterpress, hot or cold foiling, screen printing, etc. his company is never left wanting for the ability to create. He is proud to say that  “I deliver quality, service and satisfaction to my customers and for this reason work comes to me automatically. I do not have to waste time running after work.” While discussing digital printing I was not surprised that his reaction was similar to that of a larger part of the Indian label fraternity, ”It does not make sense to me at this point of time. I can print good quality short runs cost effectively on offset and letterpress“. A very interesting change that I noted in Rajesh during my talks with him is that he has started to encourage Indian entrepreneurs who have excelled. While most of his equipment is imported yet in recent times he saw the potential in an Indian manufacturer of label presses, Multitec. He was not hesitant and bought the equipment. In fact, he has followed it up by acquiring two more.

Family life

Rajesh Chadha being the elder son in his family, like in most migrant Punjabi families of that time in New Delhi, joined the business while he was still studying. He is an alumnus of New Delhi’s Salwan Public School and later studied commerce in Dayal Singh College for B.Com and finished with a master’s in commerce. His wife Anju is a master’s degree holder in English and takes an active interest in the business. Rajesh and Anju have two children who are both now married. Their daughter Upasna studied at the prestigious London School of Economics and spent time at Oxford University. Son Aditya, like his father, studied commerce from Delhi’s Shri Ram College of Commerce and later completed his MBA in marketing from ”Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA“. Then after a one-and-a-half-year work experience in AT&T in the US, he returned to India to join his father at Update Prints as director. Rajesh fondly mentored him to take charge of this company.

Update Prints’ business has transformed over the years. They do very little transfer labels business now and largely produce self-adhesive labels. Their customers are mostly leading FMCG companies. Ten percent of their produce goes into export. While in Patel Nagar, waste management was a big problem for them. With the company growing continuously, disposal was becoming a gigantic issue. It was one of the reasons besides expansion that they moved to this present location some 35 Kilometers from Delhi. Here they have developed collectors who take the waste and convert it for various usages and applications. He strongly feels someone needs to work in the direction of managing or recycling this waste effectively and believes a solution will evolve. He also feels going linerless is also a good direction but like digital printing it will be some time before this technology becomes adaptable extensively.

 Rajesh Chadha is satisfied about the time he has spent in the label industry, he says, ”It is an interesting industry. There is lot of work and room for creativity and innovation“. He is proud of his achievements. He has led the company to consistently achieve an almost 20% per annum growth rate, which is above the perceived industry rate. He is beaming when he says, ”Growth comes naturally to my company because of the quality of our work. It is not fueled by huge borrowings from banks“. No wonder he heads a fully family owned successful and growing zero debt company!

 Written in May 2014 and updated in April 2024.

In July 2017, the LMAI conference at Agra registered an astounding success with 550 delegates. As a proud moment for me, I was conferred the first ever “Lifetime award for support to the Indian Labels Industry!” In the following year, Indian label industry was in a fast forward mode, as was evident from the resounding success of labelexpo India 2018 when the Indian label association LMAI hosted the international label confederation L9, an event that was applauded for the kind of camaraderie that it created amongst the global labels fraternity. The 3-day LMAI label conference from 25th-27th July 2019 at Kochi, Kerala with close to 600 delegates from all over India and various parts of the world attending this biennial event, was efficiently organized and delivered the promise of comradeship, entertainment and knowledge sharing. It was a gigantic task hosting such a large number of delegates. The program was held at Grand Hyatt, perched on 26 acres of plush green land on the serene Bolgatty Island, Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty is a waterfront urban resort overlooking the backwaters of Vembanad Lake. Amit Sheth, who had been instrumental in founding LMAI was conferred the lifetime award for his outstanding services to Indian label industry.

This was followed up with a vibrant Labelexpo Europe 2019 at Brussels which was a happening show! As the show opened on 24th September 2019 the corridors started to fill up and a whole lot of cosmopolitan visitors including a substantial number from India were visible.

By December 2019, Covid-19 or Corona virus  struck populations in countries across the globe creating a scare that impacted adversely most economies in the world. Governments took strong measures to curb the proliferation  of the virus which was declared a pandemic. Increasing numbers of affected people and deaths had created an alarming situation. Areas were cordoned off, schools shut, travel became restricted, congregation of people was restrained, and businesses were left suffering. The global printing industry at large also faced the brunt of the impact. Important printing events where major buying decisions are taken and seminars that enhance knowledge besides providing networking opportunities were postponed.

On the evening of 24th March 2020, lockdown was imposed in India for just 14 days and the entire country came to a standstill. Workers who felt the pinch of no work started migrating to the safe confines of their homes in villages. For two years with multiple extensions of lockdown until March 2022, people were restricted to their homes after which the businesses started limping back to normalcy. To counter the spread of virus, a huge demand for sanitizers erupted, and due to the restrictions on movement, another big avenue of packaging for ecommerce emerged. Label printers devised ways to reach factories and devise ways to service this need and demand for labels. A resilient label industry did not lose its steam and even in those tough times, continued to grow modestly. An interesting boost came for digital label printing. During the lockdown there was a shortage of workers, it was difficult to get prepress done and supplies were not adequately available. Digital presses, enabling computers to print,  provided the support to meet the just in time and customized label demands. While flexo printing companies had to take a back seat but others with digital printing capabilities like Sai Com Codes, Skanem, Huhtamaki, Pragati and others with digital printing presses were able to print and supply in multiple shifts. Harish Gupta led Sai Com Code invested in HP Indigo in 2020 followed by a Konika Minolta and with plans to invest more in digital presses.

Unfortunately, many people in label industry passed away during the time of corona virus, prominent amongst them was industry legend U K Gupta, founder of Holostik, Neeraj Mahajan of Prakash Labels, my own elder brother Pritpal Sahni and mother of Ajay Mehta of SMI Coated products. It is sad that the times were bad, and these people could not be given a proper send off by their dear ones. What is encouraging is that many leading label companies indulged in social service to others who were  suffering by providing health and essential support. Besides other problems many printers who in their expansion plans, had placed orders for new equipment and started building new facilities, had to put things on hold or slow down pace due to social distancing norms, shortage of manpower and financial stress on cashflows. Label printing companies Mudrika labels, Prakash labels and a few more had already bought label presses that had either been imported or were shipped and had to wait until the end of the pandemic so that international travelling restrictions were relaxed, and foreign engineers could come for installing the equipment. Construction of Prakash labels new factory and Any Graphics’ upcoming factory also had to go on hold until the pandemic tapered off.

On the 11th of May 2020 an embattled Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fighting a mammoth pandemic Covid-19 on one hand and facing a dwindling economic scenario on the other, made a clarion call to the nation, calling for his countrymen to support his vision for Atma-Nirbhar Bharat or self-Reliant India. He even announced a financial package but primarily these were easily available loans but one still was required to pay interest and installments. A large part of the label industry in distress due to the impact of lockdown, was not very comfortable with this, as in a situation whereby the post pandemic demand had yet to crystalise. It is heartening that the label industry started bouncing back to vibrancy and growth. The industry learnt to achieve more with less.

Development of prepress has been instrumental in the growth of flexo printing. While prepress and platemaking companies have been spread across the country. There has been pioneering work done by Deepanshu Goel led Noida headquartered Creative Graphics, setting up units at multiple locations to service customers just in time as they demand. In 2017 Deepanshu Goel went on an expansion and acquisition spree by first starting operations in Mumbai then starting the Hyderabad unit, later acquiring Chennai based Colordot. In 2018 he started his Baddi (Himachal Pradesh) unit followed by a unit in Ahmedabad bringing the total number of manufacturing units to six, working out of a consolidated shopfloor area of 50,000 square feet.

Veepee Graphic Solutions (P) Ltd, a prepress company founded by the Late V Peethambaram in 1996, now run by his son Jaichandra and his wife Nalani,  too has multi location facilities in India and in Srilanka. Pinmark Block in Ahmedabad and a vast number of prepress and plate making companies have spread across all geographical zones contributing to the development and excellence of flexographic printing in India.

Dhiresh Gosalia led Pressure sensitive Adhesive manufacturer Jesons corporation, in 2012 had reported total working space of over 185,000 square feet, 250 employees producing 60000 tons adhesive and other emulsions per annum out of the installed capacity of 86000 tons per annum. By 2024 they had expanded to 6 plants across India producing adhesives and specialty chemicals with installed capacity of 283,000 tons per annum and a revenue of Rupees 1722Crores exporting to 60 countries. They have almost 35% of the expanded India PSA market.

Indigenisation of equipment and supplies in India has been an ongoing process reducing dependence on imported products. Aurangabad based Sanjeev Atre led PGI Technologies had pioneered in manufacturing magnetic cylinders in India, in 2022 the tooling business of PGI was taken over by Noida based Multi Hitech Inc. led by D K Garg. Netherland headquartered and world’s largest anilox manufacturers Apex International had set up their India manufacturing facility in Nashik in 2018. A year later three partners Parag Koradia,  Parag Patel and Sandeep Sharma started their first indigenously owned production of anilox rolls in their company Acme Rolltech Pvt.Ltd. Ahmedabad. Up to March 2024 Acme had sold 9500 rolls catering to almost 900 customers across the globe exporting to more than 25 countries, with partners in 12 countries having close to 95 % repeat business. The company claims to have 48% market share. The number of labelstock manufacturers continued to grow with installations of coater/laminators already in or coming up across the nation in places like Delhi NCR, Baddi, Indore, Nagpur, Mumbai, Daman, Palghar, Kolkata, Mumbai, Nashik, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Morvi,  Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Puducherry and other remote areas. In 2012, Ranesh Bajaj led Creed engineers had launched their in-house Brand “Vinsak”, venturing into manufacturing at a facility in Rabale, Navi Mumbai, producing slitter/rewinders, label finishing equipment and Inkjet systems for labels and security printing. In 2016, the company was renamed “Vinsak India P Ltd.” Ranesh and his family moved to the UAE in 2014 to manage the Global operations of the group from there. The group now has a significant business in the middle east and Africa selling label printing, finishing equipment. The group also acquired the productive unit of Rotatek, narrow web offset manufacturing in Barcelona Spain.

On the 2nd of February 2019, India’s largest Indigenous labelstock manufacturer Ajay Mehta led SMI Coated Products Pvt. Ltd. headquartered in Mumbai with slitting and distribution center in Jebel Ali UAE, celebrated their 25th year of existence, in grand style. Over two hundred guests were shown their impressive factory. Three years later on April 29, 2022, they were 100% acquired by Jindal Poly Films’ wholly owned subsidiary, Jindal PolyPack. In May 2022, PRS Permacel, which owes its inheritance to healthcare giant Johnson and Johnson and founded in 1927 by them, later became a part of  The Premchand-Roychand and Sons’ group, was acquired by Grindwell Norton Ltd., a Saint-Gobain group company. PRS Permacel is a manufacturer of adhesive tapes and label solutions. In October 2023 Gautham Pai led Manipal Utility Packaging Solutions was acquired by J K Paper Limited. Manipal Utility Packaging Solutions has been amongst the top 10 Packaging and Label companies in India. JK Paper Mill unit at Rayagada (Odhisa) was established in 1962. They are a leading Indian player in Office Papers, Coated Papers, Writing and Printing Papers and High-end Packaging papers and Boards. They acquired the total labels and packaging business of Manipal technologies.

In January 2022, a strike began at UPM mills in Finland, in support of the Paper workers’ Union. The strike lasted 112 days and affected the production of paper supplies and materials. The printing industry was under extreme pressure due to shortages and depleting stock levels. The war between Russia and Ukraine has had several impacts on the packaging industry, packaging production costs went skywards. The price of paper pulp in Europe increased by almost 60%, which had impacted packaging production costs even in India.

On 13th of September 2022, I, Harveer Sahni was conferred the year’s R. Stanton Avery Global Achievement Award. I am the first Indian so far to have been bestowed with this prestigious honour. The decision was made by the Global Awards judging panel, consisting of Lori Campbell, chairman of TLMI, Linnea Keen, president of TLMI, Philippe Voet, Finat president, Greg Hrinya, editor of Label & Narrow Web, James Quirk, content director at Labels & Labeling, and Jean Poncet, editor-in-chief at Etiq+Pack.

Labelexpo India 2022 made its return to India from 14th to 17th November 2022, post the 4-year hiatus due to pandemic, in style and impressively. The show at Expo Centre in Greater Noida was vibrant with activity and label printers gave a  definite thumbs-up to this all-important show. Despite the leading international label presses not being there running live, 250 exhibitors put forward their best to a demanding labels industry. A whopping record breaking 12000 visitors marked their presence in this busy show, a big rise from 9851 visitors at the 2018 edition of Labelexpo India, making it yet again the biggest Labelexpo held in India so far. The Indian label press manufacturers exhibited in big numbers and displayed the fact the industry had evolved to international standards. Leading the pack were Multitec, UV Graphic Technologies, Alliance Printech, NBG Printographic Machinery, Webtech, R K label Machinery etc. All label press exhibitors reported a successful show. Technological changes also started to be adopted by the Indian label fraternity. Multitec leads the way, working out of a 110,000 square feet shop floor with 120 employees. They have offices in 3 countries and agents in 15 countries. The number of presses they report as installed so far is a whopping 588!

UV flexo label printing came into use in narrow web label printing towards the end of last millennium around 1999. By the end of the first decade in 2009, UV LED flexo printing was displayed at Labelexpo Europe, it was a matter of time for the technology to reach India. The first sales of LED flexo series in India was signed in 2020 and thereafter it has started being preferred by a lot of printers.

Label industry in India has been transforming gradually implementing evolving label technologies, starting with flatbed letterpress to intermittent letter press and settling down with rotary flexo that saw immense upgradation both in terms of quality and speed. Moving further, combination printing has been adopted by many companies having combination of flexo with any or either of gravure or screen or offset along with embellishments, in a single pass. The most important change in the transformation of label printing is now the growth of digital label printing. Even though the first digital label press was installed in 2008 yet by 2015 most leading label printers were of the opinion that due to high cost of equipment and consumables, digital printing has to wait for a while. On the other hand, technology was growing and finding acceptance around the world.

European Label Industry Association FINAT had also revealed that European digital label press installations overtook conventional press sales for the first time in 2017. The number of digital roll label presses of leading brands in India has expanded from the 22 in 2017 to 51 in 2022 registering a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of 18% as regards the number of press installations. Out of these HP Indigo accounted for 16 presses  which include two 25K which find usage both for labels as well as for flexible packaging and one HP Indigo for Lamitubes, Konica Minolta 10, Monotech 8, Domino 3, Xeikon 2, Durst 4, Screen 2, etc. In terms of numbers, Hp had 32% share of the installations, Konica Minolta 20%, Monotech 16%, Durst 8%, Domino 6% and others account for the balance . However, this was not a real indicator of the quantum of investment by label printing companies in digital printing technology. I have done the calculation on the approximate costs of these equipment, the total investment in digital roll label equipment in 2022 was more than Rupees 215 Crores or about 28 million US Dollars.  HP, being the most expensive equipment of the lot, accounts for a whopping 66% of the investment made in value  while all others remain less than 10%. Digital is on a growth path! The digital printing segment has started growing at a fast pace. In two years after 2022, in 2024 the number has jumped to over 92! With the maiden entry of a high-end digital label press from Pulisi, China, the final count of digital presses in India is 93.It is an increase of CAGR of 24%. HP continued to maintain their leadership with similar market share in excess of 60%.

In the last five years from 2019 -2024, label printing companies have expanded with installations and increasing their shopfloor areas to accommodate more equipment among these are Any Graphics who moved to their new state of the art 250,000 square feet factory in Noida, Prakash Labels also moved to their new factory in Noida spread over 50,000 square feet with 8 label presses, Seljegat Sivakasi moved to their new factory with 160 employees, increasing the shop floor under production to 120,000 square feet with multiple presses and allied equipment and Zircon Technologies Dehradun expanded to six plants with increased product range and shopfloor admeasuring 300,000 square feet and Kwality Labels Delhi. moved to their additional new facility in Manesar. Others who also expanded include Sai Com Codes Rai, Alpine containers Jammu, Marks Emballage Baddi, Jain Transfer Noida, Mudrika labels Mumbai, Janus Mumbai, Kumbhat Holograms Chennai, Asean Packaging Ahmedabad, Great Eastern ID Tech Gurgaon, Multigraphics Dehradun, etc. The industry has emerged stronger after covid and is on the move to greater heights. Avery Dennison had started their operations from a factory in Gurgaon and later they set up their bigger facility in Ranjangaon near Pune. In April 2022 they commenced operations in their new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Greater Noida spread over 12 acres. Avery Dennison opened its first Intelligent Label Solutions Lab in India in Pune in April 2019. This lab is the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa. Intelligent labels, or “smart labels,” are labels that contain Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. These labels can help with product history authentication, tracking, inventory, consumer encounters, and digital transformation. They can also help prevent product counterfeiting and improve logistics. RFID technology is used in many industries, including beauty, food production, aviation, automobile manufacturing, logistics, retail, and supply-chain management. In March 2024 UPM Raflatac, a global supplier self-adhesive paper and film products, opened a new slitting and distribution terminal in Mumbai, India. The existing facility in Bangalore is being closed.

Sustainability and environmental concerns became  issues that called for immediate attention. A conscious India’s label association LMAI held many seminars on sustainability, waste management, EPR and green endeavours. Their commitment culminated in the LMAI conference at Jaipur which was themed as creativity-innovation-sustainability. The much awaited sixth biennial LMAI label conference was held from 20th to 23rd July 2023 at the sprawling Leela Palace Hotel Jaipur. The event was organized following a gap of 4 years after an amazing showing at Kochi in 2019. A total of 580 delegates that included Printers from all over India, domestic as well as international suppliers and leading printing magazines. Ramesh Deshpande of Renu Prints Aurangabad was conferred the LMAI lifetime award.

Avery Dennison’s sustainability implementation effort includes their recycling program started in 2018 that helps recycle used paper and filmic label liners. It offers customized waste recycling solutions and works with professional recyclers. They handle all the paperwork and regulatory concerns, including proper documentation and compliance with waste-transport laws. Their program titled AD Circular comes at a comparable cost to what converters are already paying to dispose of their label liners. Avery’s other endeavour in sustainability is the launch of their linerless direct thermal labelstock for barcode applications.

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi March 2024

The label industry in India is largely male dominated. However, in an evolving scenario there happens to be a lot of efforts on women empowerment which depends on social status, education and upbringing. As literacy rises, the middle class is becoming more tolerant towards women taking up employment. Even the government is encouraging women to get educated and become self-sufficient. In the case of business and the forward-thinking families, more girls are going to universities and following it up with business management studies. The stigma of females to be just home makers after finishing basic education is now receding, at least in most urban societies. It is no more a taboo to let women assume leadership position. In fact, women are proving to be efficient, effective and resilient. They are empathetic, communicative and able to build loyal committed teams. They are more focused learners, able to multitask and hence successful. Surprising as it may seem, they are able to overcome gender bias. Label industry is no different, the author has interacted with some of the wonderful women in labels industry in India who have brought in professionalism making their workplaces more disciplined and vibrant, adding a touch of glamour by their presence.

Kusum Dunglay is the managing director of the thriving label printing enterprise, The Goodwork Company. She is setting example for other women to follow, proving that age is just a number! At 75 years of age, she is heading the company established by her late husband Kartar Singh Dunglay, 68 years ago in 1956. She travels widely, visiting existing customers and new prospects. Kusum, an MBA from London University, was guided by her husband’s expertise to learn the printing business. This foundational knowledge has played a pivotal role in her transformation as an administrator leading adaptation to industry evolutions. Joining the business in 1972, with decades of dedicated leadership, she steered their label business to excellence, widespread recognition and remarkable growth, achieving substantial market share.

Being a female leader, as a trailblazer in the printing business world, joining at a time when few women were in prominent business roles, provided a unique advantage to bring diverse perspectives, foster inclusive workplaces, and contribute to a more balanced business environment. By creating strong business ethics and processes, she expanded her client base with numerous MNCs. She is now leading the company to an exciting phase of expansion, transitioning into empowering the next generation, to take the reins of business. She says, “this strategic shift ensures that our business stays at the forefront of innovation, meeting evolving market demands with excellence.”

Goodwork company with 60 employees works out of 25000 square feet  shop floor at IMT Manesar, Gurgaon. She sums up, “While not retiring, I am gracefully transitioning into a behind-the-scenes role.”

Manjula Mishra, after completing her MBA in 1996, joined a chemical company as branch manager. Six years later she quit job to set up own maiden venture Holosafe Security Labels Pvt. Ltd. co-founded by herself and her husband Pankaj Mishra. Being first generation entrepreneurs coming from middle class family, cautiously they researched on the nuances of  running an industry before indulging to manufacture Self-adhesive Labels, Smart Labels, BOPP Labels, Shrink Sleeves, Holograms and Holographic products. 51-year-old Manjula now heads Holosafe as Managing Director. Initiating her marketing through agents, procuring business at lower margins and higher volumes, she gradually built her own team to finally sell without agents. All their manufacturing along with R and D operations are from 50,000 square feet shop floor at one location in Greater Noida with over 100 employees. Equipped with four label presses and latest holographic printing technologies they remain constantly innovating, Manjula says, “we are on a steady path of growth and optimistic about our future.”

Manjula has been a member of the National Board of MSME (Ministry of Small & Medium Enterprises) of Government of India  from 2014-19. She is recipient of Outstanding Entrepreneurship Achievement Award from the CM of Uttar Pradesh in 2013 & CM of Bihar in 2015. She was selected in the first batch of  Walmart supported Women Entrepreneurship Development Program in 2016, awarded with “Most Enterprising Women of India” award on Women’s Day on 8th March 2017 in Mumbai and in 2023 she has been selected for the prestigious Woman Entrepreneur Leadership development program jointly conducted by HUL and Genpact.

Sandhya Shetty, after completing education as a B.Sc., followed by Master’s in Management Studies, started her career, spending 8 years in business research and analysis, working on projects involving Government contracts, Defense sector in the US and in the hospitality sector in India. Quitting the job in 2008, she co-founded Synergy Packaging Pvt. Ltd. with a Nilpeter label press, headquartered in Thane and factory at Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. As managing director of the company, she has nurtured it to become a market-changer creating innovative labels for products some of which went on to become market leader in their category. 46-year-old Sandhya is happy that she has created a team that is more like her family, every member has been with them for a decade, this she asserts, is a bigger award than the ones that are received from customers and Industry.

She says, “India’s label printing industry is full of vibrant people! Barring a few outlier experiences, I would say the challenges of being a woman entrepreneur are same as that a man in the industry would face. On the contrary, I have had customers, vendors and others more patient and helpful.” She further adds, “my ‘never say die’ attitude has always been my biggest strength.” At the organizational level we are adding products, aware of present and future trends, we are researching global best practices in our effort creating a phase-wise plan for implementation. Recently she has been inducted in the LMAI management committee as the only woman in the association’s leadership team.

A highly acclaimed Priyata Raghavan, recently announced as Printweek Business leader of the year 2023, was part of an eminent panel at PackPlus 2023 and BMPA 2024 events. She has been awarded by many associations such as FICCI, DLF Industries etc. She is one of the few women at the helm of a successful Indian company in the labels and packaging industry. 43-year-old Priyata is the daughter of industry stalwart Vijay Raghavan, who founded SAI PACKAGING CO. (division of Sai Security printers Pvt Ltd) in 1993, a company that she now heads as deputy CEO. Under her leadership SAI has registered a consistent CAGR of over 15%  for the last decade and through multiple private equity fund raises, apart from expanding their customer base to the who is who of the FMCG, ALCOBEV and Pharma Industry.

Completing B.Com from Delhi University, PGDM from IIM Lucknow, additionally training in Business management and Finance, she joined Sai Packaging in 2004. Starting her career in finance followed by sales and operations, she worked her way up, to lead the Profit Centre for North Plant as well as Business Development, Finance and Corporate Affairs of the Company. The initial resistance faced in management and on shopfloor was overcome by her, with hard work, resilience, passion and delivery to be feted and trusted by all as an inclusive leader. Priyata says, “Women bring in innate ability to multitask and establish an emotional connect. Their higher SQ(Social Quotient) and EQ(Emotional Quotient) helps build tangible and solid relationships amongst all levels of the team and stakeholders. This ability helps the teams to go above and beyond, and win trust with suppliers, customers and investors.”

Sai Packaging is already a leader in packaging, producing Labels, Cartons, Leaflets and Inserts at two locations; Faridabad in North and Bengaluru in South with 600 employees on shop floors spread over 270,000 square feet.

41-year-old Neha Jain is the director of Great Eastern IDTech Pvt. Ltd. founded by her father-in-law Prem Chand Jain popularly known as P C Jain in 1983, as Great Eastern Impex and later renamed. PC Jain pioneered the introduction and proliferation of variable data labels in India! Neha, an Alumnus of FIDT, NIFT (Fashion Designer with Information Technology) and BCA(bachelor’s in computer education) from IGNOU specialising as lead auditor in Quality Management systems, joined Great Eastern in 2005. After joining she spent time in all departments and built departmental procedures, defined objectives and outcome reports that enabled them to achieve ISO 9001:2000 certification in 2006. With the growth of online selling platforms, she expanded her role to manage store fronts in multiple Amazon platforms. She launched web to print platform; www.dinolabeldigital.com built in-house in 2021 to service short run buyer needs with digital label printing services, currently servicing B2C customers with plans to add B2B clients. Moving out of shadows of her mentors and shedding the image of a female from the owner’s family, she created her own space with knowledge and technical knowhow, to be taken seriously as a leader. “Creating a more inclusive work environment, female leaders bring discipline, fairness and attention to detail in the organisation” says Neha.

Great Eastern manufactures Barcode & RFID Systems supplies and services; Thermal transfer ribbons; Packaging tapes & pricing rolls with plan to diversify into Brand/product label market. They have 125 employees and are located at Gurgaon with a 7500 square foot shop floor with four label presses.

Keerthi Aruvela heads the operations as Director at Chennai based Sree Krishna Labels and Solutions Pvt. Ltd. ( SK Labels) established in 1978. She is the 40-year-old daughter of the founder A Ramesh. An alumnus of Stella Maris College in Chennai. After having completed MBA Finance from National University of Singapore, she gained experience working in Southeast Asia in the finance and investment banking field. In 2009 she chose to join the family start-up in packaging space involving herself in all aspects of seeking regulatory approvals, machinery purchase, RM procuring and marketing. Post exit from the packaging line, she joined the family’s label business looking after finance and operations along with her sister who handles sales and marketing. She led the company’s foray into digital label printing. Referring to challenges of being a female business leader she rues that; it is often assumed that women don’t understand the technicalities, or people are reluctant to talk to women. As for the advantages she faces as woman she says, “Women have the ability to multitask, and their empathetic leadership strikes a good chord with the team.”

S K labels operates with 50 people and four label presses from a 9200 square feet shopfloor. They plan to expand capacity beyond the present product range consisting of multicolor labels, specialty labels, security labels, tyre labels, battery, pharma and barcode labels.

Tania Hansoti started her career in the advertising industry at DDB Mudra Group, working as  strategic planner for 4 years where she gained exposure to brands such as Adani, Fortune oils, Arvind Fashions, Century Ply, SOTC, Zydus Wellness and Future group. Post marriage 31-year-old Tania joined S.Kumar Multiproducts Pvt. Ltd. Ahmedabad, founded by her father-in-law Manish Hansoti in 1978. Their label division came into existence in 1997. Tania is an MBA(Marketing) and joined the company in 2020 at a time when the company invested in futuristic Digital label printing by installing a UV digital press from Screen, Japan. Her responsibilities included Improving brand awareness, build a marketing team to increase sales, achieve quick turnarounds and implement marketing campaigns through social media. Though she found it challenging as a woman to communicate on technical topics, yet with sheer perseverance, she overcame this, ”Being a woman makes the team environment less authoritative, less competitive and more cooperative” she says, and goes on to add, “the presence of a woman around keeps them in check and at their best behavior.”

With her, in leadership role the company became recipient of several Printweek India’s prestigious awards; Printing company of the year award– Essential Service Provider Category in 2022, Sales champion of the year in “Women to Watch Awards” in 2023, Nominated in the Young business leader category in 2023 and Customer service excellence award in 2023. She endeavors to further improve working in the company to be environmentally safe and sustainable. S. Kumar produces Labels, Shrink Sleeves & Sachets, consuming over half a million square meters of labelstock per month with 6 label presses at one location spread over 50000 square feet and 120 employees, with plans to expand to a bigger place.

Isha Deshpande, a BA in Business Management and MA in Strategic Fashion Marketing, joined as director in Trigon Digipack Private Limited who are the trailblazers in providing impetus to, and leading the growth of digital label printing in India. Trigon was founded by Anil Namugade and Isha’s father Milind Deshpande in 2008, both of whom mentored her to take up a leadership role in the company. In 2019 she joined Trigon in the midst of pandemic, so she invested a lot of time in understanding the processes, machines and materials. After three years of spending time in the company in Mumbai, 28-year-old Isha now heads the Delhi branch of Trigon and represents the company on many platforms. She does not find it a challenge working in a male dominated industry as there are many successful print companies that are led by female entrepreneurs. She expressed, “I am sure there are advantages for a female but in my opinion, if you’re hardworking, goal oriented and respectful, gender is very secondary.”

She is now focused on expanding their business in the north to have a similar setup to the one in Mumbai, where they produce labels, pouches, laminate rolls, cartons, rigid boxes, canisters and point of sale material on two high-end HP Digital presses and 9 post press machines. Trigon has a workforce of 200 at various locations but the manufacturing is largely at the Mumbai facility which is spread over 20,000 square feet.

Nalani Jaichandra, a Graduate in Commerce who later did her higher studies in Cosmetics and Nail extension in the UK. She spent many years in the beauty industry before joining as director Veepee Graphic Solutions (P) Ltd. in 2026, a prepress company founded by her father-in-law Late V Peethambaram in 1996 and now headed by her husband Jaichandra. She had established her chain of state of art nail bars when the nail art was in its nascent stages in India. 49-year-old Nalani is a Sri Lankan by birth and settled in Bengaluru after her marriage. After understanding the process of plate making, she gradually took over the plate production department, setting SOPs, hiring, training and setting up quality standards. She indulged in maintenance when needed and during the COVID, she single-handedly installed a new machine because the engineers from Germany could not travel. Now most of the 200 strong workforce from all locations report to her and only the prepress department is handled by her husband. Nalani has been actively involved in setting up the new plants at Pune, Hyderabad and Sri Lanka, gaining experience. She is actively involved in business development in Lanka as she is well connected there. She is now spearheading the setting up of a new plant that will have a complete 42×60 line for plate making.

Nalani has overcome the initial challenges of being a female leader. She says, “It’s a proven fact that women are good at multi-tasking which has helped me to handle multiple roles in the business.” Recognizing her success in printing business, Sri Lankan Association of Printing had selected her as ambassador to promote their trade fair held in India in October 2023. She was invited to Judge 50th Miss Globe Sri Lanka finals beauty pageant. No wonder moving from the beauty industry to label industry she has joined the bandwagon of successful women who have brought professionalism and glamour to labels in India.

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi February 2024

Printmann Offset Pvt Ltd established in 1987 is a pioneer in manufacturing of paper-based packaging products such as cartons, leaflets, labels and foils primarily focused on Pharma and healthcare sector. At a function titled Printmann 2.0, held on 13th February 2024 in presence of many stake holders which included leading brands they  announced the induction of Somerset Indus Capital Partners as a minority investor in their business. The funds would be deployed to accelerate Printmann’s growth, through pursuing both organic and inorganic growth initiatives. The launch of Pakcellence, a new subsidiary was announced which would make in-roads into innovative and sustainable solutions like the Gable Top business; etc.

Somerset Indus Capital Partners’ overarching investment philosophy is to partner with dynamic companies who are poised for transformative growth and this investment further solidifies their commitment to fostering growth and innovation within the Pharma and Healthcare industry. Speaking of the collaboration, Avinash Kenkare, Partner, Mayur Sirdesai, Partner and Sharad Ladha, Partner, Somerset Indus Capital Partners jointly said “As we embark on this exciting journey with Printmann, we remain committed to leveraging our resources, expertise, and extensive network to support their strategic initiatives. We are excited about the prospects of this partnership and look forward to a fruitful collaboration with Printmann’s talented team.”

Bipin Tanna, the visionary founder of the company said “Printmann has a leadership position in the paper packaging industry especially in the Pharma sector. I am confident that this investment from Somerset Indus Capital Partners will fast-track our growth trajectory in new markets and in other high growth sectors and accelerate new product development initiatives. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with Somerset in the years to come.”

Brothers Tejas Tanna and Ankit Tanna directors of Printmann jointly stated “We look forward to welcoming Somerset to partner with us as we embark on this exciting journey, and we look forward to leveraging Somerset’s resources and expertise as we further fortify our presence across markets and build a brand name for Printmann globally.” EY acted as the exclusive sell-side advisor to Printmann, DSK Legal acted as the legal advisor and Marathon Edge provided vendor assist services on this deal.

Prabhjot Singh Jandu is the third generation of Jandus! His grandfather Baldev Singh Jandu set up his maiden venture Jandu Engineering Works from humble beginnings in 1972, operating from a 100 square foot rented premises with just one lathe machine that he was operating himself and grew it to become the most prominent supplier of coating and laminating plants in India. His son Gurdev Singh later joined him in business to help his father to further the growth. Their story written by the author in 2013 and also carried by leading print magazine Printweek India,  is already there on the blog https://harveersahni.blogspot.com/2013/01/baldev-singh-jandujandu-coaters-create.html This was at a time when his grandson Prabhjot was still in school. With time, it was felt that there is a need to upgrade equipment in terms of technology and automation, together with expanding the business in terms of size, planning, service and administration. When Prabhjot finished his studies, he joined the enterprise and spent a year or so in training before starting to take decisions, it was like a dose of fresh youthful energy in the company. He is the 3rd generation Jandu to be inducted who is now initiating a complete makeover!

Prabhjot Singh Jandu completed his education with a B.Tech. Mechanical engineering from Amity University followed by business training at the same institution. As a part of that training, he was sent to Adelphi University New York for six months and then to Birkbeck, University of London, England for another six months. On return in 2020, at the young age of 22 years, he joined the family enterprise Jandu Engineering Works and was handed over the responsibility of uplifting the company branding and to take up marketing aggressively. Once he got settled, in order to make component inputs consistent to standard specifications, he moved on to look after purchasing and improving infrastructure to build plants with improved performance of their coating and laminating equipment.

He is now taking it upon himself to create plants that were not only great in terms of aesthetics but also excelled in running at higher speeds with increased automation. Prabhjot endeavors to gradually move away from the basic market that they were catering to and transform his company to cater to the higher end of customers for coating and laminating plants that can make specialty coatings and curing with precision under controlled conditions. He plans to launch coaters for new and innovative products. To make their plants more sustainable they have managed to design and supply equipment that has reduced wastages, with lower manpower and less dependence on operators. For better after sales service, he is introducing remote access so that production downtime of customers is substantially reduced. They now have the capability to access the plant at customer’s premises through internet and diagnose the problem and provide solutions. This has helped them with providing service to their export customers as when they provide internet connectivity, the Jandu service team can troubleshoot and support. They are already implementing real time data access from the plant in production for better and more accurate coatings. Servo drives with software support from Siemens are incorporated for demanding customers. Better tension controls provide uniformity of coatings and smoother run ability. As for providing inline inspection and precision control for silicone coatings starting at 0.30 GSM (gram per square meter) they are ready with the technology but await the right customer who will invest in such a high-end system for their silicone coater. Jandu Engineering Works under Prabhjot’s guidance have started to follow industry 4.0 guidelines.

Earlier, to increase their outreach in the industry, almost all business came to them by reference from existing customers or friends. Prabhjot is making changes and has indulged in extensive marketing and brand promotion. Jandu’s emails are not plain text now and have transformed to well-designed ones and are informative. Their website is up there on the first page when a prospective customer is looking for coaters and laminators. They regularly exhibit at label and packaging exhibitions; in fact, their last international presence was at Labelexpo Europe 2023 in Brussels where it was seen, all three generations manning the booth.

Jandu’s initial growth in the label industry was due to the earliest label printing press that they produced, narrow web CI flexo, but they have now found immense success in building coaters and laminators for the self-adhesive label and other converting industries. Their label printing press manufacturing business is now a very small part of their operations, they are in the process of contemplating either to improve and upgrade their presses or just keep concentrating on coating equipment. There present range has expanded to offer multiple types of converting equipment besides label presses which include coating and laminating machines for; silicone coating and self-adhesive labelstock, specialized coated products, thermal paper, sublimation paper, solar coatings, medical tape coatings, Barrier coatings, PLA coatings, pattern coatings and car wrapping, etc. They also have strong demand for slitting machines as it is necessary equipment for the coating and laminating lines. With experience, Jandu Engineering Works can help new entrants in the coating industry for specialized products with technology, sourcing and other details. They keep acquiring the latest information from suppliers of chemicals and specialized coatings in contact with them who are promoting their technical coatings and advise the processes to be followed. Jandu believes in sharing information with their existing customers.

Prabhjot is happy that the company has grown  60% to 70% since his joining. When he joined their silicone coating line was running at 250 meters per minute and adhesive coating at 100 meters per minute. Now after upgradation the silicone coating runs at 350 meters per minute and after more design changes it is expected to increase to 500 meters per minute and adhesive coating can now run at 180 meters per minute with much improved drying system. Proudly he says, “their earlier customers used to look for basic machines at low prices and now after I explain to them the benefits of the newer technological changes in our equipment, they are ready to invest in the expensive advanced versions of our equipment.” Ninety percent of their customers repeat their orders as proof of their acceptability. Their penetration into the market segment they operate in is more than 80%. While the number of coaters being sold now may be a little less but in terms of value it is much more, almost doubling their turnover because of the sale of advanced equipment to a higher market segment.

Prabhjot is ambitious and with active mentoring and support from his grandfather Baldev Singh Jandu and father Gurdev Singh, he wants to grow the company at a faster pace and endeavors’ a 50% growth in revenue per year. When he joined the company in 2020 Jandu Engineering Works was already operating from a 25000 square feet shopfloor, which has now expanded 60,000 square feet despite the pandemic slowdown. The Jandu family is now looking for about 3 to 4 acres of land for further expansion. The total workforce employed when Prabhjot joined was 70 and has now increased to 120 people. In the last 3 years they have sold around 40 coating lines up to 2-meter width for various applications employing diverse coating methods like air knife coating, 5 roll silicone coating, bar coating, gravure, adhesive coating, etc. These lines have the capability to coat at a speed up to 350 meters per minute. Jandu coaters have been exported to 17 countries so far.

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast New Delhi January 2024

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Printing magazines may reproduce this article by giving credit to the author.

Sappi Limited, a global leader in dissolving pulp and paper-based solutions, is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa; has over 12,000 employees; manufacturing facilities on three continents, in ten countries (ten operations in Europe, four operations in North America and five operations in South Africa) and customers in over 150 countries worldwide

The persistent global economic downturn is proving to be much tougher than anticipated with depressed markets, geopolitical instability and weak economic growth combining to put significant pressure on Sappi, particularly in Europe.

In response we announced on 10 October 2023 the start of a consultation process on the possible closure of Sappi Lanaken Mill. We have completed this process and agreed on the social plan for the employees.  Production of paper ended in December 2023. The closure of the site should be completed during the second calendar quarter of 2024. Details regarding the financial impact once all closure elements are taken into account will be provided during the first quarter financial results announcement. 

For Sappi, our strategic focus includes reducing exposure to the graphic paper segment while expanding our presence in packaging, speciality papers, pulp and biomaterials.  Sappi Europe is focused on building a sustainably resilient company. This requires evaluating the future of all facets of the business based on market dynamics and the market segments Sappi believe will be strongest in the future. 

While continuing to serve the graphic paper market through its competitive assets, the overall priority of the European business will be to grow the packaging and specialities segment specifically within flexible packaging, functional papers, self-adhesives including glassine, labels as well as dye-sublimation categories. The transfer of production to other Sappi facilities increasing capacity utilisation has commenced and there will be no disruption to our customers.

Sappi Lanaken Mill is an integrated pulp and paper mill located in Belgium, which employed 581 workers with a production capacity of 165,000 tpa of pulp used to produce 530,000 tpa of coated woodfree paper which was mainly sold into the European print market.

Label waste contributes to environmental degradation. Effective management strategies can limit label waste going to landfills, leading to a healthy & safe environment. To learn more, join the LMAI event in Bangalore.
 
The event is free for LMAI members only. Nonmembers can register as members and join LMAI to attend the programs organized by LMAI!

While the Indian labels industry keeps evolving, adapting different printing and converting technologies, there is also a generational change happening in the leadership. Most of the founders, while still active as mentors, have passed on substantial decision making to their next generation who are now in the lower middle age group of 40 years, plus or minus 3 years. All those who I have covered belong to family managed companies. Though largely these young inheritors are the influencers or drivers of growth in their respective companies, yet, complying to the cultural heritage passed on in the Indian families, they give the credit to their parents or their mentors who founded the company. This is so heartwarming! These young men are professionally trained, well-educated and are always ready to adopt new managing systems. They do not hesitate to invest in new and innovative capital equipment to stay ahead of competition and drive expansion. They have come to establish themselves as the young czars of Indian label Industry.

Pragati Pack Pvt. Ltd., part of the Pragati Offset Printers group Hyderabad, founded by the legendary Paruchuri Hanumantha Rao in 1962, is led by his 37-year-old grandson Hemanth Paruchuri who is taking care of the packaging business in the group. The commercial printing business is taken care of by his brother Harsha Paruchuri. Hemanth is qualified Mechanical Engineer, an Alumnus of Purdue University Indiana USA, he has been mentored by his father Narendra Paruchuri who is an industry stalwart. Joining the company in 2007, he learnt the business hands-on practically, while working within Pragati. Presently, designated as director with responsibilities that include development, production, marketing and selecting areas of further expansion as well as identifying appropriate capex investment.

When Hemanth joined Pragati, packaging was just a small part of their business, which has now become 75% of the company’s overall business. Pragati is one of the highest awarded printing companies in India. Their annual calendar created by great teamwork at their commercial printing division is a piece of art that people preserve as prized collections.

Talking of future, Hemanth says, “Plan is to keep growing in packaging and in labels by doing more specialized labels predominantly self-adhesive.” 

For labels and packaging they operate at multiple locations in Hyderabad and in Noida. As for roll  labels they have three flexo presses and one HP Indigo label press, for sheetfed they have a small Konica Minolta digital press. For digital sheetfed packaging they may invest in larger sheetfed press in digital. Total manufacturing area for labels and packaging is spread over 440,000 square feet in Hyderabad, 120,000 square feet in Noida plus 80,000 square feet for commercial printing. The workforce for labels and packaging is  700, and 300 is for commercial printing.

Alumnus of Harvard Business School, UCLA Anderson and IIM-A 42-year-old Ankit Gupta, Joint Managing Director of Holostik India Limited, had pursued higher education after completing his BE in computer science. He along with his brother Shobhit Gupta took over the reigns of Holostik, a company founded in 1991 by their illustrious father Umendra Kumar Gupta who was leading personality in the Hologram and anti-counterfeiting label and packaging industry and passed away due to Covid in 2021. After a stint at A V Birla group as an IT engineer, he joined Holostik in 2005 as head of its real estate and chemical verticals. Thereafter, from 2007- 2020 headed the MarCom, HR, and Strategy followed by heading the Sales department. After taking over as Joint MD in 2021, he launched NaturTrust, the bio-degradable and compostable packaging business in the year 2022.

Ankit’s achievements include winning the prestigious Larry Wolfen Award for Entrepreneurial Spirit in 2006. Investing in multiple start-ups including Edukart – India’s leading education marketplace that was later acquired by Paytm and Bedrock Ventures and Mentoring and angel-investing in more than 15 successful startups across India.

For future he plans to keep working on innovation and integration of innovative technologies to fight the cause of counterfeiting, explore new markets and geographies both in India and globally and increase the use of sustainable technologies as their commitment to a green earth. Holostik India Ltd. is headquartered at Noida producing  Anti-counterfeit security OVDs (Holograms), Security Labels, 3D Labels, Holographic Packaging Films, Induction Liners, Digital Supply Chain Solutions among many others. They operate with 450 employees out of the 100,000 square feet shop floor with three European Flexo label presses and 2 Screen Printing Presses besides a host of other equipment.

Thirty-eight-year-old Naveen Goel is the Managing Director of Noida based Any Graphics, founded in 1987 by his father Kuldip Goel, past President of LMAI. After completing his MBA, Naveen joined Any Graphics in 2009, beginning his career in printing and packaging as Director marketing, responsible for business development, client acquisition, customer relations and direct sales for the company. 14 years on, now as Managing Director, he is committed and focused to providing solutions to customers across all sectors providing innovations, value engineering or cost engineering. Naveen says. ”Leading the company from 60 people to 800 people over the last decade has been a satisfying journey. Being second generation, it was very important for me to sustain the founder’s vision to consistently innovate and handcraft solutions to diverse needs of the customers.”

Any Graphics has achieved exceptional growth through sharp focus on award-winning products and solutions that include Rigid Boxes, Labels, Mono Cartons, Dome Stickers, Panel Overlays and Decals. They employ an 800 strong workforce operating with 6 label presses and many sheet fed, screen, digital presses and a lot of other allied equipment from 250,000 square feet shopfloor in 15500 square meters of land.

Prakash Printers and Coaters Pvt. Ltd., established in 1975 by Thakurdas J Shivlani in Ahmedabad, is now led by his 40-year-old son Prakash Shivlani as Director. Prakash joined the family business while still in school as a salesperson. Those days they used to print on sheet Offset and were amongst the first ones in the Gujarat region for printing sticker labels exclusively. Transforming the sticker business to labels in roll form, they initially installed some smaller Flatbed and Letterpress narrow web presses machines Onda and Iwasaki. Later at the start of a new millennium, as business grew, they installed a CI Flexo from Etirama, Brazil.

After completing his undergraduate studies, Prakash joined the family business in 1997 sharing responsibilities along with his father, specialising in sales, however he now also takes care of production. Their production profile now includes Labels, Shrink Sleeves, Flexible laminates. They also produce silicone liners, Hotmelt adhesive label stock with diverse face stocks like Holographic/Metalized paper, Aluminum Foil , 2/3-layer substrates for In-house consumption. Prakash endeavors to expand into packaging in the near future. Presently they operate with seven European flexo presses besides other equipment from a 355,000 square foot shop floor with 150 employees.

29-year-old Krish Chhatwal is the grandson of late Narendra Chhatwal who migrated to New Delhi after partition of India in 1947 and worked for the famous Kwality Restaurant. In 1962 he set up his maiden venture, a printing press and nostalgically named it Kwality Carton manufacturing company. Later, the name was changed to Kwality labels unit of Kwality Offset Printers. Krish Chhatwal, a BBA in Finance and Marketing has been the director of Kwality Labels since 2017. He initially worked as a trainee in all departments of the company learning the nuances of printing. As for sales, he made cold calls, met potential clients and gained new ones for the company. Accompanying his mentor, his father Rajeev Chhatwal, visiting expos around the world, he realised the growth potential of labels industry.

After his active involvement, Kwality invested in a Xeikon digital toner label press, implemented ERP systems, Inspection systems, hybrid Xrite colorcert software for Density control of colours and software for pre-press. They have won awards for excellence from Printweek, NAEP, LMAI, Finat, Asian print excellence and many more. Krish plans to make continuous investments in equipment to produce highly embellished and security labels. They operate with 110 employees and seven label presses complementing their offset presses and allied equipment in a shopfloor admeasuring 35000 square feet, producing Self-adhesive labels, Anti counterfeit security labels, Wet glue labels, Variable data labels, Customized and Personalised labels, consuming more than 800,000 square meters of label stock.

Founded in 1992 by Hemen Vasa and Bhupen Vasa, Unick fix-a-form & Printers Ltd. Ahmedabad is a specialized producer of functional Labels, multilayer leaflet/booklet labels, piggyback dual labels, tri layer labels, scratch off labels, hanger labels, special peel and seal labels for pharma applications, shrink sleeves, etc. Heman Vasa’s 31-year-old son Priyank Vasa, a BE in Printing Technology from Manipal Institute of Technology, is now the youthful leader at Unick fix-a-form. He is designated as development & strategy director. Priyank specialized in Financial Modelling and Analysis. Before joining the company in 2014, he had spent his summer break as a trainee in the company while still pursuing his engineering. After joining, Priyank supported the sales team with new developments and innovations to venture into segments outside their comfort zone of pharma. He later also became part of the QA team to standardise inputs, ensuring error-free products.

Priyank has been instrumental in implementing ERP systems for smooth operations. Since their specialized labels lacked in aesthetics, he led the implementation of value additions like screen printing, embellishments, using special inks varnishes foils, metallics, touch and feel effects etc. The company has further undertaken projects to curb expenses, reduce wastage and optimise production processes. Unick operates from a 30,000 square feet shopfloor with 5 label presses and 250 strong workforce consuming 400,000 square meters of label stocks per month for their specialty labels.

41-year-old Aditya Kashyap is himself the founder and Managing Director of Baddi based Marks Emballage Private Limited and Marks group, that he established in 2011. An alumnus of the famous Ruia College Mumbai, he worked briefly in an international bank and later got trained in family-owned large Pharma companies for packaging development and purchase, followed by interning as a trainee in a label manufacturing unit before initiating his maiden venture. With Two Gallus label presses that he bought in one go, one Bobst Label press, AVT inspection system, Prati finishing machine, Pantec embellishing equipment, Xrite and much more, the company shopfloor is spread across 30,000 square feet having 60 employees. On his journey so far Aaditya says, “The journey has just begun, after setting the unit from scratch to what it is now.” He further adds,” “though we are setting up professional management, yet I am still involved to implement my vision of creating a world class company.”

As a part of its CSR initiative, Marks group has invested in sponsoring the annual “Printweek Student of the year” award to backup educational initiatives for encouraging young people to take up print as a career. Aaditya aims to grow the company multifold in coming years with his latest ideas. He aspires to roll out at least one new project every year for the next five years. He is pensive in his thoughts, ”this is the time for us to spread our wings before getting into a consolidation mode. “

A relatively new entrant in the self-adhesive labels industry 35-year-old Vatsal Vora Director of Asean Pack Ahmedabad, has achieved amazing success in just 5 years including the 2 years passed in covid. Asean Pack was founded by Vatsal in 2018 after completing his MBA. In a short span of time the company is producing Pressure Sensitive Adhesive labels, Shrink Sleeves and In-Mold Labels (IML) in a 40,000 square feet shop floor with 2 Bobst label presses and one HP Indigo Digital label press working with 115 employees.

He plans to add one more press in 2024 followed by yet another in 2025. Thereafter  he aspires to make continuous growth to increase their product range to include flexible packaging focused in producing pouch packaging coming from the short run customized and personalized packaging by adding more flexo and digital printing equipment.

Tejas Tanna aged 42 years, had in 2005, joined Printmann Offset Pvt. Ltd. after getting a Diploma in printing technology and B.S. (Bachelor of Science) degree from Rochester Institute of Technology New York USA. Printmann was founded in 1987 by his father Bipin Tanna the Chairman and Managing Director of the company. While working in the company Tejas parallelly pursued studies for getting an MBA from NMIMS (Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies) followed by a crash course in packaging from the Indian Institute of Packaging. Tejas and his 36-year-old brother Ankit Tanna are directors at Printmann with Tejas looking after sales and marketing, quality assurance and new product development and Ankit taking care of supply chain and operations. Ankit is an MS in finance from Manchester. Printmann started with commercial printing but by 1991 they felt the need of diversification for future growth and since they were into marketing collaterals for FMCG sector they opted to concentrate on packaging focused on the pharma and health care segment.

Now, 80-90% of their business comes from this sector. They supply whatever these companies require in the printed packaging space, which includes cartons, labels, leaflets and foil. Tejas says ,”We are perhaps the only company to offer all the four verticals from just one source.” With European Pharma companies making tamper evident labels mandatory, Printmann is now producing these as well. They are three times winner of Printweek packaging company of the year award, including one that they got this year. For  making capex decisions, the brothers become influencers and since their father is controlling finance the final decision is a joint call that is made by all three.

Printmann’s main factory is in Navi Mumbai, for expansion, they were looking for land outside Mumbai and fortunately the adjoining plot became available which they acquired, constructed during covid years and shifted their carton division there. They have another unit for blister foil manufacturing in Vasai. Between the three locations, they work out of 160,000 square feet shopfloor with over 300 employees clocking a turnover of Rupees 160 Crores last year which is expected to rise to 180 crores in this fiscal year. Summing up, Tejas emphasizes, “We understand our responsibility to remain sustainable and thus we have commenced our journey towards sustainability. We are implementing safety measures, EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety) systems and are tracking carbon footprints. We have hired PWC to advise and hand hold us in our endeavours on EHS.”

Janus International  led by brothers Denver Annunciation 43 years and Janus Annunciation 36 years is a producer of a wide range of print and packaging products like PSA Labels, In-mold labels, Shrink sleeves, folding cartons, rigid boxes, eflute mono cartons, etc. The company was founded by their father Joe Annunciation in 1999. Both brothers are MBAs and alumnus of S P Jain Institute of Management and Research. Denver joined the company in 2001 and Janus joined five years later in 2006. “It has been an exhilarating experience running and growing the company so far, I am looking at much more” says Denver. He had joined the company when they had just 9 employees in a 500 square feet shopfloor. This has grown to 202 employees in three buildings at the same location in Thane spread over 55,000 square feet. Janus International has 7 flexo presses, one HP Indigo digital press and 3 offset presses.

Talking of the future, Denver mentions firmly that they endeavour to create a World class manufacturing company with ongoing stable growth. The company registered a sale of Rupees 83 Crores in the last financial year and they are confident to double it in 3 years.

Alpine containers Pvt. Ltd. Jammu is a company producing labels and packaging, at the northern most location in India for labels,  founded by Harish Gulati who mentored his 40-year-old son Vipul Gulati from starting as a trainee to taking up a leadership role in expanding the company. Though Harish had set up the printing business manufacturing mono cartons in 1978 in an 800 square foot premises, but Vipul joined in 2003. The present company Alpine was established in 2008 when they expanded into corrugated board cartons. In 2012 they installed an automatic corrugation plant, the first one to be setup in entire region of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Vipul Gulati did his schooling from Prestigious Maharaja Hari Singh School Nagbani and BBA degree from Lovely University. Vipul led Alpine’s venturing into label manufacturing in 2015 with installation of a Gallus ECS 340 label press then a Mark Andy P 7 in 2019 and another Label press in 2022 along with 3 inspection machines and screen-printing machine. As Executive Director of the company, Vipul is responsible for purchases, new developments, expansion and day-to-day operations. He is  expanding label business beyond Jammu, setting up a manufacturing plant in Gujarat.

The company is now operating from two locations in a shop floor admeasuring 200,000 square feet employing more than 250 people. As for labels, they consume in excess of 400,000 square meters of self adhesive labelstock which is likely to increase exponentially once the expansions being undertaken are completed.

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008 December 2023

Prologue by author: In 2010 I wrote an article on Chandan Khanna, where he expressed, “I wanted to be different”! Six years later after visiting his label manufacturing unit in Thailand I wrote again quoting him in the title, “I am different”. He has time and again proved that he is not the one to stay stagnant and moves on in life. He sold his Indian operations at a pinnacle and moved into other arenas in pursuit of businesses pursuing passions other than labels. While his Thailand and Sharjah unit are still in good operations, he did not indulge personally but mentored and groomed a person who joined him in the initial stages of his career as an assistant manager. His protégé, Sachin Arya was a quick learner and a committed honcho who climbed the rungs in labels like an entrepreneur. Yes, Chandan Khanna, you proved you are different!

Sachin Arya, hailing from Faridabad a suburb of New Delhi joined Ajanta Packaging in 2008 as assistant Manager at their Baddi unit in the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. After short internships at a couple of international banks he did his MBA from IILM Delhi in 2005 and set up own startup for export and import business in partnership with a friend. While he and his partner were contemplating a foray in to labels industry by importing labelstocks, Sachin came in contact with Chandan Khanna. While he was still trying to understand the labels business, Chandan made him an offer to join his company and asked him to go for some time to his Baddi unit to learn and get a feel of things.

He went to Baddi for a week and the team at Ajanta made sincere efforts to teach him the nuances of printing and managing a labels unit. Sachin was a good learner and seriously indulged in getting a feel of all the processes. Though He liked the feel of the labels business yet his commitment to his friend with whom he was in partnership in the import export business was bothering him, leaving their startup suddenly was not sounding right. Since there were some projects that Sachin had initiated so he needed time to complete them before joining Ajanta fulltime. Chandan Khanna is a farsighted businessman, and he had the patience as he saw the potential in Sachin and thus for a year Chandan let him finish his projects and attend to Ajanta’s work for a couple of days each week shuttling between Delhi and Baddi. A year later Sachin completed his pending projects and amicably, both friends agreed to dissolve the partnership. Sachin gave up his share to his friend who still runs that business and himself  joined  Ajanta Packaging Baddi, full time.

Sachin’s father now retired, had worked as Finance Manager in Friends Auto India Ltd Faridabad for over 30-35 years. His son Sachin was born and brought up in Delhi and moved to Faridabad in 2004 after he finished his education. On joining Ajanta Packaging in Baddi he realised, his learning in labels was limited and he was almost a novice.

He did not have a thorough knowledge of fine printing and least of all managing a label manufacturing unit. It was a big change for him to move from a self-owned trading enterprise to working for  a service-oriented industry. It was a time when Ajanta’s packaging’s Baddi unit was trying to qualify for P&G (Proctor and Gamble) and the unit was not yet ready for the qualification. Though they were in production, yet to meet the stringent requirements for P&G, there was a lot that needed to be done. Sachin’s original brief was that he was to be in marketing and rest, he needed to find his way around in the company. He was an indulgent worker from day one and initiated his work by putting together SOPs. He got help from the P&G team  and his senior, the plant manager, who is an experienced industry professional. While the P&G audit was underway and had yet to be cleared, the plant manager who was heading the enterprise at Baddi suddenly quit the job, just days before the audit. Unfortunately, Ajanta failed that audit but with sympathetic consideration, P&G understood their situation and gave them another final opportunity on  date just two months later for another audit. As all responsibility fell on Sachin and it was a challenging situation, he decided to meet the challenge head-on. He hired some knowledgeable people, revisited all parameters and finally got the audit cleared.

The learning: P&G gave them an artwork for “Pantene” a job which was tough, and which they were printing in Ajanta Thailand, on offset with a vignette in single colour from zero to hundred percent. That label was a real challenge. The label also had printing in gravure and screen, and they were to create that on their nine colour flexopress. They also had to print by flexo, the “Head & Shoulder” label by matching the metallic silver that was earlier done on gravure. Having no knowledge, Sachin took the challenge in his stride and worked on it contacting suppliers like Siegwerk and Eckart for support. He even spent a couple of days at the Siegwerk lab learning CIELAB and matching colours to print successfully.

The CIE in CIELAB is the abbreviation for the International Commission on Illumination’s French name, Commission Internationale de l´Eclairage. The letters L*, a* and b* represent each of the three values the CIELAB color space uses to measure objective color and calculate color differences. The L*A*B* stand for  L* indicates lightness, a* is the red/green coordinate, and b* is the yellow/blue coordinate. He was required to match Delta E values and send ink drawdowns to the buyers. Delta E is measured on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 is less color difference, and 100 indicates complete distortion. It was the first time in his life that he saw a spectrophotometer. When the Siegwerk lab staff showed him, the blue looking a little red, he was surprised how blue can look red? Sachin put in hard work to learn travelling daily from Faridabad to Siegwerk factory in Bhiwadi in Rajasthan, a distance of more than 90 Kms each way. Once back in Baddi, Sachin was able to successfully match the colours, adding more aniloxes to their existing anilox rolls library to get the finer output and at a time when HD flexo was not yet available. His biggest learnings came from all industry suppliers. He learnt the value of cleaner aniloxes so also requisitioned an anilox cleaner. When the challenge came for screen printing, he requested support from Stork. The P&G audit was cleared and then onwards there was no looking back. There was capacity enhancement at Ajanta and Sachin so rightly gives all the credit for his learning to his mentor and boss, the farsighted Chandan Khanna, who reposed full trust in Sachin’s capabilities and kept on investing on Sachin’s grooming as a technically sound person with leadership qualities. Chandan continued to invest in multiple label presses and increasing the capacity of the Baddi unit. This was beside his manufacturing facility in Daman in the west of India and the unit in Thailand. Sitting in faraway Mumbai, he reposed full trust in Sachin and his capability to come up to expectations.

Career journey: Chandan had seen and sensed the caliber of Sachin and training did not end at just making him technically sound. He further entrusted him with marketing, besides being the key account manager for P&G as well, to complete the leadership acumen in him with hands-on experience. Sachin set up his systems and a team at production and himself started travelling with marketing teams to brand owners and other customers understanding their requirements and explaining to them the intricacies of their capability to create labels that add value and enhance the sale ability of the product adorning them. Brand owners make artworks on a computer but how it must be converted on complex substrates from the conceptualised label design needs a lot of technical consideration. For this reason, his travel with the marketing and sales teams was an asset in converting efforts to orders. From his initial designation as an assistant Manager at Baddi Sachin rose became the general manager and his presence became necessary wherever in the group new press installation was being done, may it be in Baddi, Daman, Thailand or Sharjah in UAE.

Rising to the top: From 2008 to 2015, Sachin had transformed from a novice to an expert, though he firmly believes he has still to learn a lot but is sure that whatever is challenge, he can work his way with support from his mentor, suppliers, industry colleagues and his team, to meet it. If anyone can create an innovative label, he can also replicate. If there are processes that they don’t know or do not have the capability, with Chandan’s active encouragement and support in investment and Sachin’s own eagerness to learn, he could also do the needful. When growth prospects became evident in Sharjah, they had to get the qualification for P&G there also. Sachin with his experience was offered by Chandan to move to Sharjah more so because the team at Baddi was all set to take care, themself. Sachin and his wife had a growing child and wished to move from Baddi and this offer from Chandan suited his needs and after a smooth transition to team at Baddi, he moved to Ajanta Sharjah to work under the then General Manager. Six months after Sachin joined Ajanta UAE, Chandan found the unit was not doing well, the way he envisaged and at that time the then General manager resigned and quit Ajanta UAE. Since Sachin was already there the responsibility fell on his shoulders. As a first step he got the qualification done from P&G by replicating the success he had with them in Baddi. It took him a while to understand the laws and their implications in UAE and the way business was conducted in the Middle East. In 2016 he was formally handed over the full charge of the unit as general Manager of the UAE company. In two years by 2018 the company with day-to-day guidance from Chandan Khanna, achieved stability and was on it way to growth.

By this time, Chandan was restless and wished to move into other arenas and pursue other lines of business. He sold his India operations to Huhtamaki India retaining the operations in Thailand and UAE. Ajanta UAE was being run well and he adopted a hands-off approach and let Sachin run the company like an entrepreneur and being available whenever he was needed. The company became system driven and he was reached out only for capex or urgent approvals. In 2021 Sachin’s designation was changed to Managing Director, while Chandan is the group Managing Director and Chandan’s father the Chairman of the company.

Both Chandan and his father do visit Ajanta occasionally but since all is going well, they have given a free hand to Sachin to run the unit efficiently. Talking of the difference between his profile in Baddi India to now is rightly expressed by Sachin. He mentions that in India he was just a part of the team and was not responsible for the results other than those in his limited profile but here he is answerable for everything including profitability and growth of the company. He is proud to report that with the help of the team created, the turnover of Ajanta UAE has doubled in the last five years, and he targets another 100% growth in the next three years!

His vision and efforts have been to bring efficiency in production with existing equipment to achieve. He remains committed to achieving more with less. After his taking charge, two Omet Iflex and one Iwasaki have been added to the existing number of machines at Sharjah. Talking of digital label printing, he says the Khanna family and their company heritage is from offset printing business and for that they find the quality of Iwasaki intermittent offset presses that they have, as the preferred technology. As per the customer base they have, they do not accept very short runs but most of the jobs that are short runs for flexo process, they do it cost effectively with good results on the Iwasaki offset presses and they convert the longer runs on their flexo presses. Presently at Sharjah they have eight label presses out of which five are from Iwasaki, one Nilpeter and two Omets. The total workforce in the unit is 120 operating from 18000 square feet shopfloor. For future they are building a 100,000 square feet factory at Umm Al Quwain. In terms of sustainability, they are working on various things like Solar energy, working with brands to downscale the substance weights, switching to filmic liner thereby reducing tonnage and possibility of recyclability.

Sachin’s wife Sapna is a HR professional, but both are clear not to bring office to home and not take home to office and that is why they decide they will not work in same company. Their son Shamir is 10 years old and goes to Sharjah English School. Chandan’s farsighted approach has transformed a professional employee Sachin to climb the rungs of label industry and work like an entrepreneur doing justice to the trust imposed on him by his mentor Chandan Khanna.

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi Nov. 2023