Born to Malayali parents in the south Indian state of Kerala, Hari Nair CEO of Digital Labels in Toronto  does not sound like a Malayali, on the contrary he sounds like a typical Mumbaikar (Local longtime residents of Mumbai). The Malayali people are a Dravidian ethnolinguistic group originating from the present-day state of Kerala in India, occupying its southwestern Malabar coast.

They are predominantly native speakers of the Malayalam language. They constitute the majority of the population of Kerala. It is pertinent to mention here that Hari is proud of his Indian heritage and firmly believes in the oneness of being an Indian rather than be recognized as a part of separate religious or caste-based segment of the society. Long years ago, Hari’s parents had moved residence to Mumbai, where he grew up. They lived in Santa Cruz, close to airport. He did his schooling from Kalina Education Society and  college in Parle college. He followed this with Masters in Organic Chemistry from Bombay University. Finally, he completed his MMS (Master of Management Studies) from Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai. Post education in 1989 he along with a few others were hired by Suresh Gupta former Chairman Huhtamaki-PPL, which at that time was Paper Products Limited (PPL) promoted by the late Sardari Lal Talwar and his family. Paper Products Limited or PPL was later acquired by multinational Huhtamaki. Sardari Lal Talwar’s son in law, Suresh Gupta had joined PPL when it was facing tough times. Suresh Gupta fondly called SG, was in the process of transforming the company from purely owner driven to  professionally managed one. An elaborate program of in-house training was put in place. The program was designed by SG and his colleagues to suit their specific needs, may they be technology, sales, customer or people handling. They were transforming the company to project their acumen in offering the latest in packaging. So, he hired these youngsters and trained them. He would not let them to take it easy. They were initially trained in flexible packaging, learning every part of the process including slitting. Hari mentions, “SG had long term vision.” He achieved success by implementing his ideas. These new incumbents included 6 or 7 persons to be groomed as his core management team. Hari Nair was one of them and who considers Suresh as his mentor and remains in awe of his capabilities to transform a company that was just Rupees 35 Crores when Hari joined and under SG’s leadership PPL had crossed Rupees 2300 Crores when SG retired.

Hari started his career at Thane (Mumbai) plant of PPL in flexible packaging division. When SG introduced Shrink Sleeves 1993-94, Hari was sent to Fuji seal Japan for training him and taking other persons from the company along with him, for training. In 1997 he was moved as General Manager to Hyderabad plant of PPL. Hari came to Canada in 2001 from his last posting in India at PPL Hyderabad. When asked why he moved to Canada, he is not sure, but then says, ”I always thought it will be good for his daughter plus I was fascinated by the west.” Each time he visited these countries on his business trips, he was in awe of the infrastructure, the roads and facilities.

Comparatively, he felt India was always “work in progress” and in his lifetime, it will never be like this in India. He yearned to live in these countries and drive on these roads, though today he says, these were stupid reasons. He feels as one matures and looks back; the realization comes that they were not the right reasons however his vison for his daughter Mythili getting better education has worked well. Since so many children are coming to Canada to study, she would also have had to do that but now that she is here, it is working out for her, she is a doctor and moving on well with her life. When they shifted to Canada his family had no clue what they were going to be up against, on arriving in Toronto they were all holed up in one room of a town house in which four families were living, sharing kitchen. It was an extremely challenging situation from the life they had been leading back in India.

On landing in Toronto, he tried looking for jobs in the field that he was experienced in and approached companies in similar fields. Sandeep Lal the then owner of Metro Labels called him for an interview and in response felt Hari was overqualified and he did not have a position for him at that time. For a full year thereafter, Hari did not get a break and he was so distressed that he even sent a message to his mentor SG that he might want to come back to PPL. The experienced mentor and a professional management leader that he was, SG advised him that while he was welcome to return, yet he did not want Hari to regret later and feel he did not try hard enough. SG asked him to wait for some more time and try some more, things will work out. That was the motivation coming from a mentor that made him hang on, it was the encouragement that changed his mind. A year later while he was contemplating moving out of the packaging industry, he saw many youngsters joining banks as the jobs were there on offer. On a suggestion from a friend, he did a course in financial securities hoping to get a bank job. He was then living at Kingston Ontario and met almost all the bank manager there, looking for a job.

While he was searching for a job in banks, Hari stayed connected and following up with Sandeep Lal at Metro Labels. A year had elapsed and one fine day he got two calls, one from a bank offering him a teller’s job for 10 dollars an hour and that too for just 10 hours each week which was not enough to feed a family, and the second job offer came from Sandeep Lal which Hari accepted and joined Metro Labels as an estimator. The job was entirely different from what it was in  India, the workload was heavy. One of the first lessons he learnt was that in India if you are dealing with large customers the price for a particular customer remains same for all quantities of same label but in Canada, each job is estimated and quoted separately. In 6 to 8 months, he became the plant manager for Metro Labels. A year down the line he felt the discomfort as the environment was a lot different from the time, he worked in Paper Products in Mumbai. After having spent over two years  there he quit Metro Labels and joined another label company Labelad. He joined as a supervisor and gradually moved up and stayed there for the next 7 years. While in PPL he had worked a General Manager and had handled from production to selling more like as an entrepreneur but in Canada the work system was entirely different and here Hari worked completely in production.

During his tenure at Labelad, while he was attending a Fasson seminar, the speaker mentioned that there were two big opportunities in North America and those were flexible packaging and digital printing. Sitting at a round table along with his colleague Chris Henderson from sales in Labelad, referring to digital printing, Hari said to Chris, “this is the future.” They parted on that note and forgot about the incident. Six months later Chris was at Hari’s office asking him if he remembered his comments on digital and whether he wished to start something. With an affirmative reply, both indulged, and Digital labels was born. Chris had spent 14 years in Labelad and it was an ideal combination with Hari as the production person and Chris as the Sales expert. From experience Hari felt that the HP Indigo 4000 series could not sustain a business expense but when the 6000 series came it became a different story and once it was two years of launch of that model, they felt comfortable to buy the press. Within six months they came in contact with Charlie Maclean President from ASL Printfx and decided to get into an association with ASL investing in Digital Labels, taking a small part of the ownership. Since they also had interest in digital. It was a win-win situation as ASL could use the digital capabilities of Digital Labels who could in turn have access to ASL’s sales network. ASL has grown and is very focused in high-end jobs like wine and spirits and for short runs and personalized variable print jobs, Digital Label’s capabilities are an important resource.

Digital labels are into manufacturing of all segments of labels, shrink labels and decals, but mostly concentrating on short and specialized runs. To start they had huge challenges as both partners were into service before and had no business background, so banks were reluctant to fund them. Working capital dried up soon. Once they got over the initial hiccups and proved their capabilities it became smooth sailing. The first 6 months were tough as buyers did not trust them since they were new in labels business but then a Godsent opportunity came to them when a scented candle manufacturer who was having trouble with current vendors of labels, approached them. That business came to them as a big saviour. Once orders from that customer came in, they were operating better and later when ASL came into the picture, things changed for good.

Chris and Hari have worked tirelessly, and their efforts have been fruitful as Digital Labels has been growing in the last few years at around 25% each year. Their business is now around 7 million Dollars, and they plan and make efforts to reach 10 million in the next 3-4 years  from organic growth alone. They presently operate from a premises admeasuring 8000 square feet and the space it is fully utilized. Due to shortages faced following the pandemic, they had to increase their inventory. They rented a lot of space around their present premises so that they could maintain enough stocks to service their customers well. They operate with 25 employees, presently working 8-10 hours basis. They are a slim trim enterprise who are very careful with expenses and very focused to grow their business. Commercial real estate in Toronto is expensive so they feel that for any expansion that becomes imperative, they will try to rework their present setup and increase the working shift for the time being.

His wife Surekha with whom Hari got married in 1994, is from Goa. She is a social worker by training and now since 2007, she is working for the social services division of the city of Toronto. Their daughter Mythili was born in 1995. Hari remains connected with all his friends in India. But has no business with India. He still remains in awe of Suresh Gupta whom he looks at as a mentor and feels he has yet to meet anyone as smart, knowledgeable and professional as him.

Nostalgically and pensive in thoughts he says, “Whatever I learnt in my journey in profession so far, it has been from him”!

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi December 2022

Covid-19 or Corona virus that has struck populations in countries across the globe creating a scare that has impacted adversely most affluent economies in the world. Governments are taking very strong measures to curb the proliferation as also find remedies for curing and containing this virus which is already declared a pandemic. Increasing numbers of affected people and deaths have created an alarming situation whereby vast geographical areas are being cordoned off, schools are shut, travel has become restricted, congregation of people is being restricted and businesses are suffering. The global printing industry at large is also facing the brunt of the impact. Important printing events where major buying decisions are taken and seminars that enhance knowledge besides providing networking opportunities have been postponed. Millions have been invested in planning the event by the event organisers, exhibitors and the visitors. Some of the important events that have taken responsible decisions to postpone in view of public safety concerns are as below.

Sri Lanka Print 2020 Colombo
FINAT Technical Seminar Barcelona
Labelexpo SEA Bangkok
LMAI Digital Label printing event Mumbai

PackPlus South 2020 Hyderabad India

Interpack Dusseldorf Germany
Drupa Dusseldorf Germany
FESPA Brazil 2020 Sao Paolo
Fespa Global Print Expo 2020 Madrid
FINAT European Label Forum 2020, Rome is under consideration

The label industry has been greatly impacted by the spreading virus. China and Italy are two major producers and suppliers of label manufacturing equipment, both countries have been hit badly. Covid-19 originated in China and Italy became one of the largest sufferers of this spreading pandemic with tremors of this being felt by label printers across the globe. Even though China has indicated containment of the virus at their end yet since the virus has spread to other countries, governments around the world continue to make travel advisories and entry restrictions to contain the spread in their respective countries.

These travel restrictions or self-control in avoiding travel has greatly impacted the events business. With news of Covid-19 spreading to Spain; FINAT, the European association for the self-adhesive label industry postponed their FINAT Technical Seminar Barcelona. According to Chris Ellison, President of FINAT “Apart from the public health risk, the virus is now also spilling over into the real economy, and members of the label industry are taking measures to contain the risk for their staff’s well-being and their business’ continuity. In some cases, more far-reaching measures are taken than those recommended or enforced by local governments and public health institutes.” He further adds, “We are also reviewing the scenarios for the European Label Forum in Rome next June”.

Tarsus which was looking forward to a successful second Labelexpo southeast Asia at Bangkok has also announced its postponement. According to Lisa Milburn, managing director of Labelexpo Global Series, “We have taken the difficult decision to postpone Labelexpo Southeast Asia 2020 in May due to coronavirus/COVID-19.

This is an unprecedented situation and given the vast amount of preparation that goes into our shows, not a decision we have taken lightly. However, the health and safety of our exhibitors, visitors and staff is our top priority, and working on the advice of our local partners and BITEC, we feel the best course of action is to postpone the show until September.” 

Drupa is the world’s leading trade fair for printing technologies. The last Drupa saw 1828 exhibitors from 54 countries, 260,165 visitors from 183 countries with the largest group from outside Germany coming from India totaling at 5% of the total visitors.  

Until a few days back the Drupa website stated that the event will be held on the stipulated dates and that the organisers were taking adequate steps to screen the visitors as also to sanitize the venue for safety of all. Then on 13th of March 2020 came the press release from Messe Dusseldorf stating that both Drupa and Interpack are postponed. 

A resilient Indian label industry has had its own share of voes over the past few years. Every time it is faced with a challenging situation it recovers to face yet another tough situation. First came the demonetization, hardly had the effect of that had worn off came the implication of GST.

The industry took its time to reconcile and adjust itself on to a growth path but as 2019 was coming to an end the country was facing an economic slowdown stemming the rate of growth. The resilience of this industry segment still makes it go on, sometimes rapidly and other down at a slower pace. Now the Corona virus has brought with it a new kind of situation whereby travel is curtailed, and expansions have gone on hold. With the Indian label industry starting its move in to digital label printing in line with trends in the western world, India’s label association LMAI had planned its 2nd event, “”DIGITAL PRINTING IN LABELS – THE WAY FORWARD” to be held in the evening of March 16th, 2020 at Hotel ITC Maratha Mumbai. The interest in the event got a huge response and was fully sold out two weeks in advance. As the situation of Corona Virus became alarming the LMAI management decided to postpone the event. Amit Sheth founder member of LMAI requesting postponement had said, “The way it is seen it is better to postpone the event. I think this is a National concern!” Commenting on the cancellation Kuldip Goel President LMAI said, “It is so unfortunate that immense effort had gone in preparation but for a humanitarian cause, it was needed to take precaution.!”

While the corona virus goes on unabated it is hoped that the containment happens soon bringing relief to the vast humanity that has got affected. While efforts go on by health authorities globally to find a vaccine, yet it is prudent for all to practice safety as suggested by bonafide governments and certified health authorities.

TLWritten by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Ltd. New Delhi India March 2020

LMAI Board of directors


The 3-day LMAI label conference from 25th-27th July 2019 was an event that was efficiently organized and delivered the promise of comradeship, entertainment and knowledge sharing. From the time of landing at Kochi to the time of departures on 28th, it was all done with clockwork precision. It was a gigantic task of hosting over 550-600 delegates from all over India and various parts of the world attending this biennial event. They were put up in 317 rooms spread across 3 hotels The Bolgatty Grand Hyatt, The Marriot and The Taj. The event 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.

After a smooth check-in and registrations, the delegates reassembled for start of conference. 

It all started with traditional lighting of the lamp.

Welcome address by Kuldeep Goel President LMAI followed next.

Pankaj Bhardwaj Senior Director and General Manager Avery Dennison delivered the thought-provoking keynote address, setting the tone of the conference. Pankaj, while referring to the growing Indian market mentioned, “Diminishing divide between urban-rural population in India and an aspiring middle class means a growing demand of consumer products and also label”.

Due to a delayed flight, special guest Lisa Milburn Managing Director Labelexpo Group UK could not reach in time to deliver her address and in her absence, Pradeep Saroha country manager Labelexpo spoke to update the audience about the forthcoming Labelexpo Europe in Brussels, it being the 40th anniversary of Labelexpo additional features included will be on sustainability, flexible packaging, digital printing and a host of other technologies.

Manish Desai Conference chairman spoke on the flow of events at the conference.

Shahidi Ainain Director SIES School of packaging who was moderator for the event gave the guidelines to be followed while making presentations and advised speakers on the need for time management.

The audience dispersed to re-assemble again later for welcome dinner with Thallaavia theme.

L to R: Ajay Mehta, Amit Sheth, Dinesh Mahajan, Raveendran, Harveer Sahni
Pankaj Bhardway-Avery, Kuldip Goel, Rajesh Nema, Sandeep Zaveri,
Vivek Kapoor, Ramesh Deshpande and Amar Chhajed

The conference being held in Kerala, it was an imperative to give it a local theme on the very first evening. All the Board of Directors of LMAI and Committee members dressed up in the local Malayali traditional dress, giving the evening a local celebratory touch. After felicitation of sponsors by committee members and their walk on the ramp there was Carnatic band playing, networking and dinner.

A surprise announcement was made for bestowing upon Amit Sheth of Label Planet and Intergraphic a lifetime award for contribution to the Indian Label Industry! After an emotional thank you speech, Amit walked the ramp with wife Rupa and their two daughters.

Next day after breakfast the audience reassembled for a busy day full of presentations by eminent sponsors and of very high standards. Past President Vivek Kapoor’s welcome address was followed by presentation by Manoj KM and Parag Bagade of Avery Dennison. While Manoj spoke on futuristic labelstock offerings, Parag spoke on the sustainability endeavours by Avery including collection and recycling of liner and self-adhesive waste.

Presentations made were as follows;
Avery Dennison India, Manoj KM and Parag Bagade, “Emerging Technology & Sustainability”Pulisi Technology, Olive Liu, “Relationship between Technology and Life”SMI Coated Products: Ajay Mehta and Rohit Mehta, “Technical Aspects of Applications of Label Stock Solutions”Domino Printech India: David Ellen, “Advantages of HYBRID systems for labels and Packaging converters”Vinsak India: Ranesh Bajaj, “Future Based Solutions”Retail Solution and Technologies: T. R. Ravishankar, “Trends in Barcoding and Enterprise Mobility”WEIGANG: Spring Xu, “Features enhancing to choose a good flexo machine”Luster LightTech Group: Carrie Duan, “Mining your potential”Nilpeter India: Manish Kapoor, Indian Label Indusrty – “The question of Scale and Scalability”Insight Print Communications: Ajay Aggarwal, “Transition to Digital – Now and for Future”Loparex: Manish Jain, “Future Sustainability”Heidelberg and Gallus: Samir Patkar, “The Power of 2 – when conventional meets digital (hybrid technology)”DuPont Advanced Printing: Shyamal Desai, “End user benefits”Flint Group India: Shailesh Kumar Sharma, “New Gen Color Management”HP India Sales: Appadurai, “Future is Now”BOBST Firenze SRL: Ludovico Frati, “Connectivity”Dragon Foils – Inter Films India: Raymond Lu, “Innovation and frontier of cold foil technology”

Two interactive and knowledge imparting Panel Discussions moderated by LMAI Board member Harveer Sahni of Weldon Celloplast were held after lunch. The first one was with printers where the topic was, “Creating the future vs embracing the future”.

Panelists included Priyata Raghavan Sai Security Printers, Tejas Tanna of Printmann, Aaditya Kashyap of Marksfine, Mahendra Shah of Renault Paper, Shakti Jain of Great Eastern IDTech, Yudhviram Solanki of Sicon Packs and Anurag Mohan of Interact.

The second Panel discussion was with industry suppliers as panelists and titled, “Evolving trends in Labels manufacturing!” Eminent suppliers who were in the panel and gave thought provoking inputs included;

Bhupinder Singh of Avery Dennison, Samir Patkar of Heidelberg Gallus, Appa Durai of HP, Ranesh Bajaj of Vinsak, Pawandeep Sahni of Omet, Manish Kapoor of Nilpeter, Prasenjit Das of Dupont and Sreenivas Goud of Flint. Time being a constraint the audience wished there was more time for these engaging discussions but since the schedule for the conference was so packed that there was no room for extension

After the day’s presentations ended, there was an excellent talk sponsored by SMI and Pulisi on “Secrets of Impactful Success” by motivational Guru, Gaur Gopal Das which left a full packed hall of almost 600 people spellbound and in awe of what he delivered. 

The evening ended with yet another program sponsored by SMI and Pulisi, a musical performance by the visually impaired performers from the National Organisation of Disabled Artists. They sang old Bollywood songs so well that it left the audience full of awe and at that moment, compassion turned into joy, watching their special abilities to deliver so well to a large audience.

The label printing fraternity was up on its feet and on to the dance floor enjoying the renderings of this awesome group. Towards the end, the President LMAI on behalf of his team announced an additional sum of Rupees one lakh over and above what they had contracted for.

This was followed by many in the audience committing large sums to support the social cause of encouraging disabled artists.

On the final day after a welcome address more presentations as mentioned below followed;

Apex Asia Pacific: Carl Brock, “Nothing short of revolution in flexographic printing”Flexo Image Graphics: Ian Pollock, “Future of Printing Technology”ROGLER International Sàrl: Hannes Rogler, “Future based solution”Multitec Aids: Amit Ahuja, “Life beyond labels”RotoMetrics: Cain Harper, “It’s about more than the die”Brotech Digital Graphics: Ramon Lee, “The future of hybrid printing and finishing”GEW: Marcus Greenbrook, “Upcoming Technology”Numex Blocks: Supachai Theravithayangkura, “Innovative Flexo Plate Solutions for Narrow Web Printing”JN Arora presentation

A panel discussion jointly hosted and moderated by Ajay Mehta of SMI Coated papers and Amit Sheth of Pulisi Technology was conducted with young panelists that included Hemanth Paruchuri of Pragati Pack, Vidur Agarwal of Veekay Industries,

Krishh Chhatwal of Kwality Offset, Denver Annunvciation of Janus International and Naveen Goel of Any Graphics titled “Young printer’s perception on future of label industry”

After the presentations concluded that afternoon it was time for a “Sadhya” typical of that area. Sadhya in local language Malyalam is a feast of Hindu origin and of importance to Hindu Malayalis, consisting of a variety of traditional vegetarian dishes usually served on a banana leaf in KeralaIndia.

Sadhya means banquet in Malayalam. It is a vegetarian feast prepared by both men and women, especially when needed in large quantities, for weddings and other special events. Sadhya is typically served as a traditional dish for Onam, the state festival of Kerala. It was a feast for the eyes to see, a diverse gathering Indians and foreigners relishing the local cuisine and eating with bare hands.

Past president Sandeep Zaveri updated the audience about the next program of Round tables, the interaction between sponsors and Printers.

“Round tables” program with all sponsors attending to a rotating groups of label printers was a much-appreciated part of this conference. 

It gave the sponsors opportunity to interact with existing and prospective customers. This program was highly appreciated by the sponsors.

The final evening sponsored by Avery Dennison was themed “The Great Gatsby!”. 

American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional towns of West Egg and East Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. Fitzgerald—inspired by the parties he had attended while visiting Long Island’s North Shore—began planning the novel in 1923,

desiring to produce, in his words, “something new—something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” In the novel the character Gatsby throws very extravagant, excessive parties with hundreds of guests, all for the purpose to attract a lady’s attention. The evening had the settings of the 1920s.

The evening began with a vote of thanks by LMAI treasurer Dinesh Mahajan of Prakash Labels.

It was then time for SMI Managing Director Ajay Mehta’s talented daughter Nikita Mehta who trained in the USA and is all set to go professional in the Indian singing arena, to go on stage and give a melodious heartwarming singing performance.

Finally, while people enjoyed photo ops and networking over drinks.

Bollywood singer Nakash Aziz took the stage while the LMAI conference delegates hit the dance floor and enjoyed the fun until late in the night.

Credit goes to Hemal Bhagwat who heads the event management company Mercury Integrated along with her husband and a dedicated team. “Thank you Hemal for making this a memorable event, memories will linger on till it is time to plan yet another better and bigger LMAI CONFERENCE”

Written by Harveer Sahni Chairman Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi July 2019

Magazines are free to reproduce by giving credit to author.

At the last, Indian label industry event, “LMAI  Conference” in 2017 at Jaipur I promised to write the 2nd part of my first article titled  “History of the Indian Label Industry” which I wrote in 2006. It is available in this blog at https://harveersahni.blogspot.com/2010/08/history-of-indian-label-industry.html
I have now written the 2nd part. This is brief reporting so I plan to complete a book on the subject with a lot more expanded information in the near future. In a large country with industry spread over such a vast area and a huge population, it is difficult to chronicle all in few words. Being a long article, the part 2 of History of the Indian Label Industry will be posted on my blog in a series of four articles. The first part of series numbered  2A is as below;

The first decade of new millennium was very eventful for the Indian label industry. After 2006 a global economic recession surfaced and kept growing, affecting businesses across the world.

It even impacted many industries in India where we saw companies reducing manpower, which in turn affected spending in all segments of retail. Surprisingly while printers in India as well, were complaining of recessionary trends and difficulty in operations, yet the Indian label industry overall, continued to grow steadily. Capacity enhancement kept on being made, though it was a little reduced. The Indians became indulgent not only as label printers but also as diverse product and equipment suppliers to label printing companies. For the first time an Indian company Precise Graphics, later renamed PGI Technologies in 2005 produced a magnetic cylinder that worked on a label press. Dhiresh Ghosalia led Jesons, manufacturers of emulsion pressure sensitive adhesives for the label industry at their large factory in Daman, expanded and moved northwards in India and setup an additional manufacturing capacity at a 100,000 square feet facility in Roorkee. Kaygee Papers was promoted by Pranay Godha in 1997 to produce silicone coated release papers. In 2001 they made a Joint Venture, Kaygee Loparex Pvt. Ltd. with Loparex, a member of UPM group and world’s largest commercial Siliconiser. They continued to grow and became an important part of the Indian label industry in the first decade. In 2015 Loparex assumed 100% of the company and rechristened it as Loparex India Pvt. Ltd. In August 2007 Diehard Dies, based in Guntur Andhra Pradesh, started operations to become an indigenous manufacturer of flexible dies for the printing, packaging and label industry. By middle of 2019 Acme Rolltech a company led by 3 young entrepreneurs Parag Patel, Sandeep Sharma and Parag Koradiya started the first Indian facility manufacturing Ceramic Anilox Rolls. Sandeep, came to the partnership with 15 years of experience having worked with Avery Dennison, Kurz India and Domino Printech, Parag Patel and Parag Koradiya came from entrepreneurial background of manufacturing Gravure Cylinders. 

In 2007 the largest indigenous labelstock producer Ajay Mehta’s SMI Coated Products initiated an expansion program that would eventually place SMI as an undisputed leader in labelstock production by a wholly Indian owned company, not only in India but also in many international markets.

They procured a 6540 square meter plot in MIDC, Ambernath near Mumbai, constructed 2200 square meter shed, shifted all plant and machinery from Daman to Ambernath, added two silicon coating machines and one Acrylic Coating machine. In 2014 they increased the production area by another 3000 square meters and installed a Hot Melt coating line, following it up by installing yet another hotmelt adhesive coater later.  

In 2017 they purchased the adjoining plot admeasuring 9820 Square meters, constructed 1000 square meters to install Schaeffer moving racks for better handling of an increasing volume of goods in their expanding stores.

In 2019 they completed construction of another 3000 square meters shed and moved all coating machines to new premises along with a new emulsion adhesive coating tandem machine to do inline siliconizing and adhesive coating in a single pass, 1350 mm wide to run at a speed of 150 meters per minute, reaching an installed capacity of 19 million square meters per month. They celebrated their 25 years in grand style by hosting over 200 guests to visit their works besides take part in the celebrations. Other indigenous labelstock manufacturers also grew in their own respective regions. Stayon Papers and Sticon in Hyderabad, Million papers and NG papers in Chennai, Capri Coating Solutions in Mumbai, Shree Arihant, STP Paper, Gj Industries and many more in Delhi were some of the active and visible manufacturers. Some of the earlier leaders in the Labelstock manufacturing segment pulled back or shifted focus in view of depleting margins, intense competition and unviable credit terms.

Indian label press manufacturers transformed in this period to produce label presses that were comparable to international products and made their mark not only in India but internationally as well.

Amit Ahuja led Multitec is the front runner who had exhibited their first modular rotary flexo label press in partnership with Abhay Datta of Datta Press Delhi at the first India Label show in 2002 at Nehru Centre Mumbai. The association of Multitec with Datta came to an end around 2008. Multitec redesigned their label press as a competitive product with all basic features. After renaming the press, “Ecoflex” they relaunched it. Two year hence they launched yet another version of their label press and continued to upgrade their offerings and grow phenomenally. By the end of 2018 they had achieved outstanding success producing label presses from a quality accredited design and a fully integrated manufacturing facility spread over 26,000 square meters. At the time of writing this article their website reports having sold over 300 Label presses to over 25 countries through a team of agents spread across the world. Other Indian press manufacturers who also made their mark are mostly from Faridabad, south of Delhi, the same city as Multitec. They are Alliance Printech, Webtech Engineering, NBG Printographic Machinery Co. Pvt. Ltd., M Tech Industries, etc. Other than these, Ahmedabad based RK label machines claimed to have sold 150 rotary plus 600 flatbed label presses and Noida based Jandu Engineers had sold about 135 rotary flexo presses. Jandu is also a leading manufacturer of coating and laminating machines and has a large presence amongst local labelstock manufacturers and according to Baldev Singh Jandu, they have till date sold over 150 coaters.

The Indian label market was growing at a steady double-digit growth rate and interest of international label fraternity in India also kept on growing with it. Avery Dennison who had found success in the country had in 2007 invested in land admeasuring 22 acres at Ranjangaon near Pune for expansion.

In 2008 the facility was with a one-meter wide hotmelt coater having capability to run at 500 meters per minute with inline silicon coating, this compared to the first one-meter coater at Gurgaon that could run at 250 meters per minute. The then global CEO and President of Avery Dennison Corporation Dean Scarborough specially flew in to inaugurate the facility. In 2010 Raj Srinivasan who had established Avery’s foothold in India returned to USA handing over reigns of the Indian operations to Anil Sharma. New wave of professionalism descended in the working of Avery; more expansion followed with installation of a 1.5 meters hot melt coater in 2011 at Pune. In the same year a slitting facility was commissioned in Bangalore in 2011 to serve the southern customers effectively. To help the cause of a limited number of trained press operators in India in face of a growing label press population,  Avery Dennison Knowledge Centre was also set up in Bangalore to train people for becoming press operators, but later in 2018 the centre was moved to Pune, next to their research and development centre. In 2014 an emulsion coater of 1.5meter width was added at the Pune facility. In 2015 Anil Sharma was elevated for bigger responsibilities and handed over charge to his teammate Pankaj Bhardwaj. Amongst international Labelstocks companies UPM Raflatac had established a substantial foothold with their slitting facilities in India while Lintec, Ritrama, flexcon and a few others sold through agents or directly.

Increase in number of visitors to labelexpo Europe in Brussels was a positive indicator of a growing label market in India and the interests of printers to invest in globally acknowledged label presses. In 2005 Weldon Celloplast Ltd. was the lone Indian exhibitor and by 2011 edition of the show, the number of Indian exhibitors had swelled to fourteen, up from four in the previous show in 2009.

At Labelexpo Europe 2009 there were 338 Indian visitors and this figure had swelled to 429 in 2011. The number just went on increasing, there were more Indians then before at successive labelexpos.

In 2007 at Labelexpo Europe in Brussels Tarsus announced their acquisition of India Label show, a show that was set up by Anil Arora and his wife Neetu Arora.

The next edition of India Label show 2008 in New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan was held in the aftermath of terrorist attack in Mumbai and in the middle of a huge recession, yet the show stood its ground proving the strength of growing Indian label market. In 2010 the show was rechristened as Labelexpo India. The show owners Tarsus UK made a strategic alliance with Indian Label association LMAI for the event and to have an awards night and a gala dinner organised by Tarsus at every Labelexpo India. LMAI was to conduct the LMAI label awards which became a regular feature thereafter. In 2009 under the leadership of Vivek Kapoor, the longest serving president of LMAI who completed 3 terms of 2 years each, it was also planned to hold biennial LMAI conference in alternate years, the trend has carried on till date. The first LMAI conference was held in Hotel park Hyatt Goa in 2011 and the event grew to be held again in 2013 at Grand Hyatt Goa and at Hotel Jaypee Palace in Agra in 2017. 

In 2010 leading global associations came together under the aegis of FINAT and formed the federation of global associations called L8. Later with one more association joining it was renamed L9, the confederation of nine leading international label associations.

The alliance consisted of LMAI (India), JFLP (Japan), FINAT (Europe), TLMI (North America, LATMA (Australia), PEIAC (China), AMETIQ (Mexico), ABIEA (Brazil) and SALMA (New Zealand). Sandeep Zaveri of Total Prints took over the presidentship of LMAI in 2015 and handed over the charge to Kuldip Goel of Any Graphics in 2017.  At the 2017 conference in Agra 550 delegates attended making it the largest gathering of label printers at a single conference. A proud moment for me at the Agra conference in 2017 came when I was announced as the first and only recipient till then of a lifetime award for support to the Indian Label industry.  

In 2016 Labelexpo was moved to the Expo Mart in Greater Noida outside Delhi, a part of Delhi NCR (National Capital Region) due to non-availability of dates at New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan.

In 2018 also it was held at the Expo Mart as the venue, Pragati Maidan in Delhi, was under redevelopment. In 2018 for the first time LMAI hosted a very successful L9 meet in India on the sidelines of Labelexpo India.

The evolution of label industry in India has been a continuous process, from the earliest days of screen-printed labels in sheeted format in the 1970s to roll form labels to be converted on very narrow width flatbed Japanese presses and then over to rotary flexographic printing label presses in the early 1990s.

Until the end of 1990s the flexo printing process used water-based inks with hot air drying.

The polymer plate making technology was also evolving. The process was evolving but it had shortcomings. It was faster than the flat bed machines but lacked consistency due to drying and viscosity changing issues. Better prepress and improvements in platemaking technologies brought flexo printing to almost at par in quality to offset printing. This led the rapid growth in flexographic label printing. As demand escalated, investments in equipment also witnessed increase with printers demanding wider presses for increased productivity and reduced wastages. By end of the last century UV curable inks became available and changed the way flexo printing grew. Originally, UV technology was introduced to the world in the 1960s. The drying effect for water-based inks is brought about by evaporation of volatile components. The required energy is supplied via IR-radiation and/or hot air. A loss in the dried coating thickness will appear depending on the amount of the evaporated components. The volatile components must be removed by an extraction. However, in case of the UV inks, the drying effect is due to polymerization, i.e. on cross-linking of long molecular chains. The energy required for cross-linking is supplied via UV radiation. For 100 % solid body systems the thickness of the dry coating corresponds to the thickness of the wet coating. There are no losses due to evaporation. By 2010 new UV inks came with enhanced ink transfer properties as well as faster reactivity to UV curing, meaning speeds over 200 meters/min. were achievable. Towards end of 2009 the conventional UV started to evolve to low power consuming LED UV with longer life lamps that had surfaced internationally, though the system had yet to be widely accepted in India due to non-availability of parts and inks, but it was being investigated and expected to grow substantially in demand or replaced on existing presses.  Some of the international equipment manufacturers had already introduced alternatives such as LED UV and even Electron Beam curing technology as an alternative. From the middle of first decade of 21st century onwards there grew a demand for high end hybrid presses with increased features like automatic registration, multiple printing processes for combination printing and decoration capabilities. As sustainability and environmental concerns became an imperative; waste reduction, and waste management became a necessity when an investment in equipment was being made.End of Part 2A, To be continued…
The remaining parts will be posted in gaps of 7-10 days 
Note: No one is authorised to reproduce, copy or reprint this article until permitted by the author in writing. 
Written by Harveer Sahni Managing Director Weldon Celloplast Limited New Delhi July 2019


Grand Hyatt Kochi
India’s label association LMAI’s 5th biennial conference is planned to be the biggest and most successful event of Indian label industry. The event is scheduled to be held at recently opened property, HOTEL GRAND HYATT, KOCHI, BOLGATTI from 25th – 28th July, 2019. 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.


Grand Hyatt Waterfront




Leading label printing companies and suppliers will meet to discuss, evaluate opportunities, learn and strike business partnerships that shape the future of their businesses in relaxing ambience and surroundings. LMAI conference has been growing in strength and numbers over the years.







2017 LMAI Conference at Agra





The last conference was held at Agra with 550 delegates. The LMAI leadership is expecting the attendance to jump up to 600 delegates. An elaborate knowledge sharing, entertainment and technical program is being put in place to deliver value to the LMAI members coming from all over India.






About the city Kochi: Kochi (formerly known as Cochin) is a city in southwest India's coastal Kerala state, fondly referred to as “God’s own country”. It has been a port since 1341, when a flood carved out its harbour and opened it to Arab, Chinese and European merchants. Sites reflecting those influences include Fort Kochi, a settlement with tiled colonial bungalows and diverse houses of worship. Cantilevered Chinese fishing nets, typical of Kochi, have been in use for centuries.