Self Adhesive Labels Industry In India and The World
The pressure sensitive adhesive labels and packaging industry is growing at a steady and rapid pace in India. It is now time that the contribution of those who have achieved success is chronicled so that those who wish to move ahead have a platform to look for information, news and interaction. This Website intends to provide all that along with inspiration and reference.
As a young boy in school I had heard my school principal speaking about the American people. He had spent long time in the United States before returning to India to become the principal of our school. He said, the Americans when talking about their country, business or otherwise would like to hear, tell and experience words like Largest, Biggest, Tallest, Deepest, Longest, Costliest and so on. The habit was promptly adopted by the north Indian Punjabis, and with time, people across India have adopted the habit. They love it and wish to hear, tell and try hard to achieve this benchmark. Dhiresh Gosalia is one such achiever. He is the undisputed largest manufacturer of pressure sensitive adhesives (PSA) in India. His company Jesons Industries Limited commands over 70% of the market share for these products. It is a unique feat that few people aspire and achieve in their life time. Dhiresh Gosalia Managing Director of Jesons, is an approachable, realistic and straightforward individual. A dreamer and achiever packed in one. I remember once some 10 years ago when I approached him for a supply problem (He has been a star supplier for my label stock manufacturing company), his reply was clear cut and straightforward, “I have always wanted my company to be system driven and not person driven” he further added, “if there is an anomaly, I need to correct it. Else the customers need to understand the system we have”. Dhiresh has built a strong company on sheer hard work, commitment and delegation. He firmly believes in the mantra, “Think big and be innovative”.
Self Adhesive Stickers/Labels
Shashikant Gosalia, a Mumbai based trader in textile chemicals saw future in industry and manufacturing. In 1981, he setup his startup enterprise, Jesons Corporation to manufacture wood adhesive and binders. By 1985 he saw potential in the growing self adhesive label and tape market and started producing pressure sensitive adhesives (PSA’s). The initial plant consisted of two reaction vessels, one of 1 ton capacity and the second of 500 KG. The total installed production capacity was 300 tons per annum. Those days they were producing just 5 tons per month. In 1992 Shashikant saw growth in the market and decided to move his manufacturing to a bigger 3000 square feet factory in Palghar near Mumbai. Unfortunately that year he passed away due to a lung ailment, leaving the reigns of his startup venture in the hands of his son Dhiresh, who had been in the business with him for four years. Dhiresh was used to the fact that his father was the boss and handling the company but when responsibility came to rest on him due to this tragedy, he took hold of himself and indulged in the right earnest. He took stock of the situation and reviewed the ground realities prevailing at that point of time. The size of operations in his company was rather small for a huge debt of Rs. 85 lakhs. This did not deter his determination to think big. He was a dreamer, which he still is, as he self confesses. A dreamer who works hard to make his dreams a reality. He saw a whole lot of future in the PSA industry. He fondly remembers the day in 1985 when they produced and sold the “Sticker adhesive” to their first customer, Gunvantbhai of Excel inks, a trader of screen printing materials. He carried the 100kg lot in his car to deliver it. Dhiresh decided to indulge vigorously in this product segment and studied the business very intricately. He came to a decision that they were using a wrong chemistry for the PSA segment in which they wanted to excel. He immediately decided to switch over from VAM (Vinyl acetate Monomer) based chemistry to Acrylate based chemistry. It was a tough call but he took it boldly and emphatically, proving his resolve to lead the company to success.
As a young boy Dhiresh had dreamt of meeting the challenge of excelling against the multinational giants like Rohm & Haas and BASF who are world leaders in PSA’s. The task was gigantic yet the resolve was firm. He sold his Mumbai factory, home and office to raise working capital for his manufacturing. It was time to shift gears and move his business to a higher level. The process thereafter has been historical. In 1994 the second unit at Palghar was commissioned to produce Polyurethane based adhesive for flexible packaging and PSA’s. In 1996 when incentives and tax benefits were offered, they shifted to a small 2000 square feet unit in Daman. A year later the facility at Daman had swelled to be a 20,000 square feet manufacturing unit. Another year down the line in 1998, Dhiresh bought a 60,000 square feet plot opposite the existing factory at Daman and built a 45000 square feet plant creating additional capacity. At this time Jesons collaborated with Anchor adhesive to produce Polygrip brand rubber resin based adhesives. This Polygrip part of business was later in 2010 sold along with brand to Atul Ltd.
Jesons Daman Factory
Dhiresh’s resolve to think big, lead him to plan manufacturing globally at locations outside India. In 2003 he setup a 120,000 square feet factory in China and in 2004 a 60,000 square feet unit in Nepal to produce PSA’s and Paint emulsions. Unfortunately both these units had to be closed. The China unit was sold off in 2011 as it was not sustainable due to language problems and difficult work culture. The Nepal unit had to be closed in 2009 due to Maoist terrorist problems. Two of their security guards were shot dead. However now, the process for restarting the Nepal unit has been initiated. Production is expected to commence soon. In 2008, Jesons moved northwards in India and setup and additional manufacturing capacity at a 100,000 square feet facility in Roorkee to produce PSA, Paint emulsion, Construction chemicals and Leather chemicals. This year in 2012, Jesons has taken a very futuristic step by setting up a 5000 square feet state of art technology centre at Navi Mumbai, with an over Rupees 3.00 Crore investment in testing instruments. The centre is headed by a senior scientist specializing in polymer chemistry. With an overwhelming 70% marketshare in the self adhesive label and tape market, Dhiresh is confident there is scope for more. He, in his stride has taken on, on established players in the trade like Pidilite and Jubilant and has left them far behind in the number game, when we talk of PSA’s. He however laments that the pressure sensitive adhesive products industry lacks visionaries and companies who can take on multinational competitors like Avery and Raflatac. He feels, if he has succeeded in presence of world leaders like Rohm & Haas and BASF, others can also do it. All it needs is the ability to think big and innovate. Labels and tapes is a highly fragmented segment of the industry. It took 15 years for our coaters to achieve a speed of 50 meters per minute, there may be hardly one unit coating at 100 meters per minute. Big investment in state of art coating equipment is needed, he reiterates the need is to think big and innovate! Money is available for those who Endeavour.
Dhiresh is an avid reader and finds books as ideal motivators while his parents have been the teachers, the teachers who are the influence on every person’s persona. Being the only son, he joined his father’s business after graduating from Jai Hind College Mumbai. His only sister is married to a gold medalist eye surgeon now settled in Mumbai. Extremely interesting; In between his busy schedule and intense involvement in business, he found time to complete a three year executive Management programm from Harvard Business School!
Jesons Parel Office
His company Jesons Industries Limited is headquartered in an impressive 6500 square feet 9th floor corporate office in prestigious Peninsula Towers in Lower Parel, Mumbai. Jesons’ manufacturing emanates out of a total working space of over 1,85,000 square feet. 250 employees work tirelessly to produce 60000 tons per annum out of the installed capacity of 86000 tons per annum. It really is an achievement considering the initial installed capacity of 300 tons per annum. More or less close to what the capacity that was per year is now per day! PSA’s are 55-60% of their business with sales in 23 countries. Sale in last year was Rupees 450 Crores and is targeted at 550 Crores in the current financial year. 5 years hence Dhiresh feels they will be over Rs.1200 Crores. While talking about these figures he still remembers his first big break in the PSA industry when he sold a fifty thousand Rupees consignment to Hindustan Adhesives Limited, considered the most important PSA user at that time. It was a morale booster. The most difficult time came not long ago when in 2008, the Indian Rupee started to depreciate continuously. Raw material prices were falling and customers were expecting and getting lower prices. The buying was expensive while sales were being made at lower prices. First time in his life, Dhiresh made a massive loss! Jesons was not able to service their loans. Firm resolve, power to think and hard work is what it is all about, Dhiresh drove-in, the highest profit for Jesons in the year that followed.
Madhavi, Dhiresh’s wife is a masters in philosophy. Intelligent, smart, business woman and yet a home maker! She has been supporting Dhiresh by being at his side throughout. In the last two decades that I have known them I have seen Madhavi coming to office each morning after sending children to school and returning home in the afternoons to be with them. She has provided the perfect support. Her influence on this business is evident, just look around in the Jesons corporate office and you will see women manning all the important desks! Dhiresh has to agree women deliver! Honestly, even I believe. After seeing Jesons’ progress, I confirm, YES they do. Dhiresh and Madhavi have two wonderful daughters, Jhelum and Raveena. Jhelum has completed her BBA from London and followed it up with Masters in Theater production also from London. She is now in Mumbai and from earlier in June 2012 (Last month) she has started to work in Jesons. The reigns in her hand appear to be not far away. Raveena is still studying for graduation at Jaihind College, Mumbai.
In three years Dhiresh plans to completely professionalise the company, step down as CEO and hand over charge to a professional CEO. He will perhaps have more time for himself and his hobbies that include reading, walking and playing tennis. He is not sure what he will do after handing over charge of Jesons. He will still be working and that is sure. “It could be a foray into entertainment, another venture or a completely different enterprise.” However still the mantra will remain, “Think big and innovate”.
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008 1st July, 2012.
When Shakespeare said, “Frailty, thy name is woman” he probably did not realize the strength that women generate when in a seat of power, cannot be matched by men. The level of mental endurance women have has made many a strong men in an otherwise male dominated society, lean on their feminine and delicate shoulders in hours of distress. Women have risen from being mere homemakers to world leaders. Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi lead their countries and made the world realize that women can lead from the front with an iron hand. Over the ages women around the world have been given lesser opportunities to literacy and technical education as compared to men. It is a fact that countries that have invested in educating their women and have promoted their empowerment have seen their economies and rate of development grow faster. Across the world more and more women are now acquiring expertise and capabilities similar to their men folk. They strive hard to excel in their selected areas of work. We are seeing that change happening in India as well. A society that insisted on restricting their women to household chores is gradually transforming. With government spending heavily in bringing public awareness on the need to also educate the girl child and empower women, the results are evident. Walk into any big company’s office and you see a lot of young and bright women carrying on their work with confidence and crisp efficiency. Women are now more educated and capable of involving themselves in more and more arenas that were earlier the mainstay of men only. Whether it is police or army, flying aircrafts or travelling into space, heading businesses or governments, they are not restricting themselves. Our Indian label industry did not have active business women managers till not very long ago. All that is changing now, Indian women are acquiring technical and management skills to lead high levels of investments in the label industry that is in a growth path. It is thus that I felt it is time to recognize the contribution of these women.
In 1989 my friend Sushil Bhatia, who used to work for Avery Dennison before he started his own business, introduced me to a young and vibrant Honey Vazirani, working at Paper Products Limited, Thane. That was almost the beginning of this wonderful girls’ journey into the world of labels. From being a management trainee in1989, she rose to be the head of the labeling division of this 700 Crore company which is heavily into flexible packaging. It is truly a decorative and colorful travel. Ever since then Honey has been at the forefront of PPL’s foray into production of labels which began in 1991. Her job involved client servicing, marketing, product development and leading the labels team at PPL. She has handled key customers who are a virtual who is who of the fmcg sector. Servicing demanding customers like HUL and Dabur and bringing to them the most premium and modern labeling technologies has been a passion for her. In words of Torsten Jung Lenz, who in those days worked for Jacstadt Germany, “Honey is married to labels!” Her ambition is to excel in everything she does. Having spent 21 years in the industry she took a sabbatical in 2009. She spent a whole year consolidating herself by travelling, reading, spending time with friends and relatives and enjoying good food. Yes, she is a self confessed foodie! In 2010 she returned to PPL, which has four plants and 1500 employees, to head the company’s HR department. While she is contented and enjoying her new role in HR, yet you can see the twinkle in her eyes when you ask about her future in the labels industry. Her advice to others in the label printing and packaging industry is that it is a pity that for most in the industry, “Good enough is enough” She motivates people in her company by her mantra, “ Good enough is not enough”.
In the late eighties, I had the chance to meet a very talented screen printer Kartar Singh Dunglay of Goodwork Co. which had started to print in 1955. He is one of the elders in our industry from an era and class of people who were in love with their work as the youngsters are today with their girlfriends. They would think work and dream work. It was during that time I met his dynamic wife Kusum Dunglay. Kusum is an MBA from London University and lead Goodwork's entry into label printing. She first bought a Mark Andy press and followed it up with a fully loaded Gallus for specialized and decorative labels. She now heads sister concern Reydunn Label Printing Pvt. Ltd. With a work force of 80, she is handling clients like ITC, L’Oreal and other leading FMCG groups in India. Given the experience and innovative heritage that her husband mentored, she was one of the earliest ones to invest in a combination press. Kusum Dunglay is quite excited at the prospects of tapping the growth emanating out of the Indian indulgences in retail marketing. In 2002 at one of the roadshows at New Delhi for promoting the India Label Show, in my presentation, I talked about the two women who were heading successful label printing companies at that time. Both are like sisters to me. One is of course is Kusum Dunglay, while the other is Amila Singhvi. Amila Singhvi heads the large IPP at Noida. Since her print packaging business is growing multifold at a fast pace, she has decided to gradually exit from the label business and concentrate in the packaging business.
Soft spoken gentleman of the label industry Bharat Mehta is both, the history and present of the Indian label industry. He is one of the first label printers in India. I could sit with him and chat for hours about our time spent in this industry which has evolved like a family for him and me. Bharat Mehta’s Super Labels is one of the leading and respected label printing companies in Mumbai. His two sons have joined business in recent times after completing their management studies. Silently but emphatically, providing vital inputs and support is Bharat Mehta’s wife Meena Mehta, a B.Sc in Chemistry. For over 20 years she has been driving the organization through motivation, enthusiasm and participating in all decision making.
Renuka Raj, an MBA from IIFT Delhi, spent the first three years of her career in a paints company. Later she moved on to promote and run a pharmaceuticals business. A friend proposed for them to join in starting a label printing business, Renuka found it interesting as it was a backward integration for her pharmaceuticals business. That was the beginning for her labels venture Ra Labels at Hyderabad. She has been heading that business for the last 10 years. According to Renuka it was the first flexographic label printing company in Andhra Pradesh. Renuka has ambition to increase investment and grow in this industry to become leaders in Andhra Pradesh.
Delhi based Shaikher Kaishiv of Krishna Halftone Pvt. Ltd. Is also one of the earliest entrants into the label industry in the decade of 1980’s. In recent times he has handed over the reigns of this company to his daughter Divya Keshav, the present Managing Director. Divya works hard in this male dominated industry to carry forward the good work done by her father. She is post graduate in marketing and an alumnus of the India School of business, Hyderabad. She is recipient of “Rising Talent 2010” award given to 25 women entrepreneurs below the age of 40 across the globe by the “Women Forum for Economy & Society” France. Her company operates from two locations in New Delhi and Noida with multiple label presses. There are other women entrepreneurs who I am aware of but have not responded to my emails requesting information to cover them in this article. Shweta Sheth, an alumnus of Amherst, Massachusetts USA, is actively involved in the working of Primark labels as a director. Primark is a part of the General Metallisers Group. Anjali Deshpande, wife of LMAI General Secretary, Ramesh Deshpande has been the driving force behind the success of Renu Prints, Aurangabad. She has been honored for her work by the ministry of MSME (Micro Small and Medium Enterprises). Then there is the enterprising Ramesh at S K Labels in Chennai, who has also put his daughter in command.
After completing her post graduation course from IIM Lucknow, Priyata Raghavan joined the FMCG division of ITC Limited, before moving over to Sai Security Printers, a company owned by her father, Vijay Raghavan. Sai had invested in an imported press for producing scratch lotteries but a sudden ban on lotteries made them to sit up and rethink. The growing label segment presented the opportunity and they decided to enter this field. At that point of time Priyata took over the complete operations of the company in North India. The company has another unit in Bangalore. Priyata has lead the company’s label printing operations to profitability and an emphatic presence in the high quality label segment. Sai security printers surprised all at the last Labelexpo in New Delhi by announcing purchase of two Gallus Label Presses, one for their unit at Faridabad and the second one for Bangalore. Priyata sees tremendous scope in the growing label industry. She says, “There is a lot of scope for well managed vendors of high-end labels and packagings”. She is leading Sai Security Printers to be a leader, by offering well defined levels of services and technical competence.
Sandhya Shetty and Santosh Shetty
At the end of an industry meeting called by Roger Pellow, Managing Director of the UK based Labelexpo group in early 2008, to promote the next India Label Show, as I came down to the lobby of Hotel Grand Hyatt in Mumbai, I saw Manish Kapoor of Nilpeter in a serious discussion with a young man whom I did not recognize. Manish introduced him as Santosh Shetty Managing Director of Surface Graphics, a company founded by his father H G Shetty and involved in manufacture of cartons. Santosh was considering purchase of a Nilpeter press to expand into the label production. The venture was to be headed by his sister Sandhya Shetty. Sandhya is a graduate in Chemistry and Masters in management Studies (Marketing). On completing studies she had spent 8 years in the field of business research and analysis. She worked on projects involving Government contracts, Defence sector in the US and in the hospitality sector in India. When her brother Santosh brought the idea of producing labels to Sandhya, her feminine instincts went to work. The yearning to create products that would be decorative, add to aesthetics, have scope of innovation in design came to the fore. She called it a day for her research and analysis job and decided to be a “labels girl” from day one. Labelexpo 2008 was held in very traumatic times. Mumbai had suffered a dastardly terror attack and the global economies were in crisis mode and nose-diving. Sandhya’s new Nilpeter was being showcased at the show in New Delhi’s Exhibition Center Pragati Maidan. A confident brother sister team of Santosh and Sandhya were at the Nilpeter stand all the time meeting fellow printers, prospective suppliers, and other colleagues in the label industry. The industry found an instant friend in the ever smiling Sandhya. Despite the difficult economic scenario, she was determined to do justice to the MD’s chair that she was occupying in her company, Synergy Packaging Pvt. Ltd. and lead the company to its vision of success. In just two years of starting, Sandhya and her team produced their first award winning label. She aspires to take her company to global standards and global presence.
It was extremely difficult for me to write on so many women in one go. When I decided to do this article, I assumed that it would be a relatively simple job for me, given the knowledge and experience in the industry. Once I started to gather more and more information on these women and their capabilities, I was confused. I was wondering how short sighted Shakespeare may have been while calling women as frail. Well, that was his personal opinion and may have been true at that point of time. These are intelligent women with amazing capabilities and their craving to excel is unique. They are all educated and technically capable to talk the language their customers and their team will understand. Silently and efficiently they have worked their way to a position of strength. I wonder if I have done justice to their work. I could have written a separate article on each one of them and their achievements. These women are homemakers, mothers, sisters, and friends besides being the successful business persons they are. The more I tried to discover the more there was to learn. Maybe another time I will try to write on them separately but at this time it was necessary for me to write on them collectively, because it is my tribute to these women in the label industry, “The women who endeavored!”
Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi-110008 6th March, 2011.
The following article was written in 2006, The second part written in July 2019 is published in a series of four parts. the first part 2A is available at http://bit.ly/2xOxY1P
Years ago in 1981, I came across a book on the house of Tata’s. The book written by Russi Lala was named, “Creation Of Wealth” and it chronicled the events that led to Tata’s becoming the biggest Industrial group in India at that time.
After reading the book I was overwhelmed and wished that some day I will write something like this. Maybe track the roots of my own large extended family. Somehow I never got down to seriously working on this. I guess the opportunity came around again when I was invited by Roger Pellow of Tarsus to make two presentations at the first India Label Summit in 2006. I decided that in the first presentation where we take an overview of the India Label Market, I will chronicle the events that led to the establishment of the narrow web label printing industry in India. I am sure that this topic is of prime interest to all the label printers in India. Though it is extremely difficult to put all those interesting historical happenings, bottlenecks or interesting landmarks into this presentation yet I have tried to put together in whatever best way I could. I feel less then writing a book, there cannot be proper justice done to the subject. Maybe one day if I can find time, I will attempt it. Meanwhile getting data on this has been a very interesting job and I thank my senior colleagues in the Industry, without whose inputs and help, I could not have put together this presentation.
The very beginning
The credit of bringing self adhesive labels, in their present form, to India goes to a US multi national, Johnson and Johnson. It was in the turbulent post independence time in 1947 that Johnson & Johnson came to India.
In 1957 they established Johnson & Johnson India Ltd. A couple of years later they started the permacell division to make self adhesive tapes. It was around 1965 that they entered into the manufacture of self adhesive labels. They installed a rotary label press. They sold only converted labels and did not offer any labelstock to others in the market. So there was no real scope at that time for others to setup label presses or any other sticker manufacturing facility.
The Decade of sixties.
The first self adhesive label produced by an Indian printer also started around the same time in 1965, almost thirty years after Stanton Avery produced the first self adhesive label in Los Angeles, California.
Manohar Lal Bhatia, a screen printer, producing water transfers in his company, Sharat Industries, did pioneering work and produced what was the first self adhesive sticker in India. Using a PVC face stock with pressure sensitive adhesive supplied by Calico and a Polyethylene sheet as a release liner they manufactured their stickers. The reason they did not use paper as face material is that silicon release liners were not available and Polyethylene provided for a very tight release due to which the paper would tear off. Manohar Das Bhatia was later joined by his two sons Shyam and Rattan. They worked hard to make self adhesive stickers under their brand “Sharastick” popular in those days. While Manohar Bhatia is no more, my efforts to trace his son Shyam who probably still produces labels have been futile. I tried to reconfirm if Manohar Bhatia really was the first and got the reply from Badal Hasija, a screen printer with over 45 years of experience. “101 %, he was the first” says Badal and added “I even remember the first label he made was for Gabriel shock absorbers and it left me wondering for days, what Manohar Bhatia had produced”.
Jagdish Zaveri of Preeti Arts has also been one of the earliest of screen printers who produced self adhesive stickers and started around the same time. Other prominent screen printers who did pioneering work in stickers include, Hamid Vasi of Triace, Dinesh Gogari of Diamond Stickers, Vasu Rawal of Prachi Graphics and the list goes on. Their contributions however were more in the early seventies.
As the decade of sixties was coming to an end, a young Suresh Doshi from a family of textile merchants, who had drifted into distribution of PVC and decorative laminates, decided to try his hands at manufacturing of self adhesive Wall Papers. In 1969 he traveled to Germany to visit various machinery producing companies and he finally settled to buy a Kroenert coater for his new venture.
This machine had the capabilities to siliconise and produce self adhesive labelstocks. Little did Suresh Doshi realize that this plant would be the mother equipment for the Indian narrow web label industry.
The Decade of Seventies.
In 1971 the Kroenert coater/ laminator landed in Mumbai. The company Shanti Lal Doshi & Co, the maiden manufacturing venture of the Doshi family was in place to take off. This was a landmark year and I see it as a step that would lead to the birth of the self adhesive label in roll form, made by Indians. In a couple of year’s time the Doshi’s were ready to try producing labelsocks. Metroark Ltd. , which is now Wacker Metroark, was already there to provide the silicone release coatings for making release papers. Solvent based adhesive was provided by BASF and it was time to produce the first labelstock made in India by Indians.
In 1972-73 the commercial production of Labelstock had started.Around the same time that Suresh Doshi left for Germany in 1969, another young man, Jeetubhai Shah, visited the offices of Standard type foundry in Himalaya house in South Mumbai. He was surprised to see a die cut paper label that did not need to be remoistened to make it tacky. It would stick to glass with slight pressure. It was sticky to touch and would remain so even after having touched and peeled off from the hand many times. He kept playing with it for a while. Sticking the label to his hand and removing it. He was so fascinated with the label that he started to make further enquiries. He also got from Standard Type foundry, a catalogue of Iwasaki machine that would make these die cut labels. A few trips later he came to know that Suresh Doshi was about to produce material for this machine. Jeetubhai decided do buy this machine. He joined hands with his income tax consultant and friend P P Bhagat to form a Company called International Trading Company at Kalyandas Industrial Estate in Worli. They applied for grant of an import license, and in those days of difficult foreign exchange regime, getting an import license was a nightmare. With a lot of effort they did manage the license and imported the machine. Jeetubhai fondly remembers that Japan had floated their currency that year and due to this, his machine became cheaper by at least 15%.. The timing of installing the machine was perfect. By the time it was installed, Shantilal Doshi & Co. was ready with labelstocks. There were numerous hurdles that these pioneers faced when they endeavoured on these path breaking efforts, like a whole night he spent at a workshop in the middle of Mumbai’s red light area to get his first Flat bed Die made. With deep sense of nostalgia he remembers the full page advertisement they gave in news papers, “First time in India Self Adhesive Labels, die-cut in any shape.” This was their USP over Johnson and Johnson, who were using expensive rotary dies whereas International Trading Co. had perfected their indigenous flat bed die making process. This advertisement brought in the first big label customer for them, which was Siemens. International Trading company and later along with their sister co. Global graphics were the first roll form customers for Shantilal Doshi and Co., while Sharat Industries was their first sheet form customers. International Trading Co. still exists and is run by Kishore Parekh. The original partners had left the company. Jeetubhai later started a label company called Finearts.
I had asked Suresh Doshi to cite any interesting incident of those days and spontaneously he cited one. Sharat Industries had made full die-cut labels for J K Helene Curtis from their stock and supplied. The users came up with a strange complaint.
The stickers were sticking well during the day but would fall off during the production at night. Not being able to find an answer to this one Mr. Doshi suggested that they use the labels during the day only. The production people at J K Helen Curtis did not agree as they had to run the night shift also. So Suresh Doshi was compelled to visit them during the night. He was shocked to see that the workers were not removing the release paper and thinking these to be remoistenable labels were using only water to stick the labels to the bottles. No wonder the labels were falling off !
The label industry was extended to other parts of India by the shear sincere efforts of the Doshi’s. By 1976, they had already suggested, encouraged and convinced close relatives Bharat Mehta and his brother to setup a label press.
Bharat Mehta bought his first Siki Label press from Ahmedabad where it was being used to produce unsupported wet glue labels. Shifting over from a business in agricultural pumps at the age of 26, Bharat Mehta, settled down perfectly in to his label printing business. He and his company Super Labels is one of the most respected label printers. From a single siki he went on to add a fully loaded Gallus, an EM 280 8 colours, EM 280 6 colours, and an Acquaflex. In the earlier part of the decade of 2000-2010 he lost heavily in a major fire but firm resolve brought him right back in what he liked best, “Producing self adhesive labels”. Other early entrants into the industry in the west during the seventies were, Vidya Mehta of Pressure Tags, The Kapoors of R K Papers, etc.
By end of the decade, the Doshi’s went southwards and encourage yet another relative, Dilip Sutaria to become a label printer. He setup Better Labels to lead the march of self adhesive labels in the south. In North, the Doshi’s appointed an ex-partner of Dilip Sutaria, Mr. P D Khanna and his son Vinod Khanna as their agents in New Delhi. Around the same time in late seventies, Vinayak Sood of Liddles had installed a Norprint from UK and went on to add the first Mark Andy in 1983. The year 1979 saw Narula of Rikki Sales start his label printing operations.
In East the Doshi’s found their first customer in the former national tennis champion and a celebrated player, Premjit Lal. The Doshi’s had completed their reach all over the country and by end of the decade self adhesive label industry was an established fact. According to Suresh Doshi, the biggest boost to the self adhesive label industry was in the year 1975. Starting with the controversial Rae Bareily election of Indira Gandhi, when congress introduced their self adhesive bindis, to the imposition of the law to make minimum retail price marking on consumer packages, compulsory, these decision brought a surge in demand for self adhesive labels . By 1975 another young Gujarati entrepreneur Pravin Patel had setup a polytype coater in Ahmedabad to produce silicone papers and labelstocks. 1978 saw Hari Gupta start his H P Lablette in Delhi with his Japanese coater, and towards the end of the decade PCI in Kolkata, IPW, Veekay papers and Geva in Mumbai and Weldon in Delhi had either started or were about to begin commercial siliconizing operations.
The decade of Eighties
With the start of a new decade more developments came into the self adhesive label industry. Shantilal Doshi had started operations with solvent based adhesive but environment friendly Acrylic emulsion adhesive were now in use for labelstock production. In 1982 Kilaru Prasad of Prasad Accumeter had brought in hotmelt coater from Accumeter in the US where he worked as a Sales Director. Ananth Rao of Stayon paper followed suit with another accumeter coater and Interlabels now perhaps the largest Indian printer also installed their accumeter hot melt coater to support their entry into the label printing industry around that time.
The decade of 80’s saw label printing companies being set up at various places in India. The eastern sector growth was extremely slow due to the lack of industrial infrastructure there. According to Bharat Mehta, the biggest boost to the industry this decade came in 1987 when many pharma companies started their shift rom wet glue labels to automatically dispensed self adhesive labels. This step helped establish a constant growth mode for this industry.
The Decade of NinetiesThe decade of nineties was perhaps the most eventful one. For me personally it was a memorable one as during this time we took the landmark decision to switch over from being a mere commercial siliconizer to a prominent labelstock manufacturer. However for the industry, the biggest event I rate as the entry of the multinational Co, whom I refer to as our big brothers in the industry. Avery Dennison had setup production facilities in India. I have always felt their entry has changed the way people look at this industry. From being a mere sticker maker, the narrow web label printer became a specialty label producer. In the same decade we saw printers grow in stature and capabilities. Seljagat, Wintek, S K Labels in south. Interlabels, Webtech, R K Papers, Mudrika, Icon, Tayabi, etc in the west. Update, Syndicate, Jain transfer, Great Eastern, Prakash Labels, etc in the North. The three brothers at Prakash Labels worked hard in the price marking labels segment to drive in volumes that were unheard of in the industry. Syndicate Printers went Global with operations in The UAE.The new millennium, the first decade of a new centuryAs we crossed the middle of this decade and the world’s eyes were on us. The label summit in early 2006 was a proof. The big time presses started coming in all over the country. You name them they were here, Gallus, Nilpeter, Iwasaki, Gidue, Mark Andy, Rotatek, Focus, Orthotec, the list is endless. The local press manufacturers have also reasons to be proud of. Multiflex, Jandu, RK Machine, webtech and a host of others are reporting installations constantly. The two dyanamic ladies in our industry also emerged as highly successful narrow web label printers in this decade. Amila Singhvi at IPP and Kusum Dunglay at Goodwork. Goodwork took a legendary step by signing up a joint venture with Reynders. Unfortunately they parted ways the following year in 2008. Reyenders continued their operations as an individual entity. Our Industry Leaders Interlabels setup a unit in Africa on one hand and adding more state of art presses at a new and bigger facility. Webtech also expanding with new machines moved to bigger premises. In the earlier part of this decade, over thirty years after making a historical start the Kroenert coater of Shanti Lal Doshi and Company was sold to Gloss Holdings.A proud event for us at Weldon was being the first Indian Labelstock manufacturer ever to have exhibited at Labelexpo Brussels. We are happy to report our exports to Iran, UAE, Ukraine, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Bahrain, UK, France, Italy, Germany, New Caledonia, New Zealand, etc. Another feather in our cap was that my presentation on the Indian market, became a part of the International Cham Symposium at St. Moritz, Switzerland in the year 2003.The India Label show in 2002 opened to a resounding success and repeating the success in 2004 in cooperation with Tarsus at New Delhi. It was also in 2002 that we saw another historic step, the formation of LMAI. This happened due to sincere efforts of Amit Sheth and Industry stalwarts like Surinder Kapoor of R K Papers, Bhavin Kothari of Interlabels, Rajesh Chadha of Update Prints, Kuldeep Goel of Any Graphics, Vivek Kapoor of Creative Prints( At that time he was with Icon Prints), etc.Halfway through the decade we were expecting many more exciting things to happen. More International Companies were waiting to enter, looking for oppurtune time or the right partners. The Industry was on a definite growth path and it was just a matter of time when it became a major market in labels in this part of the world. The years afterThe preceding part of this article I wrote in early 2006 and towards the end of the year I looked back and saw changes coming in rapidly. I would start by adding here that immediately after having made the above presentation at the label summit organised by Tarsus, the owners of Labelexpo, I had a pleasant surprise. Shyam Bhatia, the son of the first label printer was standing in front of me at our stand during the summit. I had tried to trace him without success. I was excited, I gave him a chair, since he had missed the presentation, I gave it to him and asked him to read it and tell me if there was any thing wrong in what I wrote. As he finished reading his eyes were moist and shining, he just kept saying, “it is so true…it is so true” and then he was gone… Rapid developments and changes are happening in the Indian market. More international companies have become extremely active. The Indians are also investing across the country. At least dozens of Chinese hot melt coater laminators have been installed. Label stock manufacturing is going wider, there are a few 1.5 meters coater laminators that have been installed or are in the process of being installed. A whole new set of Offset printers are investing in high-end label presses, indicating a firm shift from wet glue to self adhesive labels. Narrow web label printers are coming up in smaller cities and towns rather then being restricted only to metros. Installations have been reported at Nagpur, Pune, Indore, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Baddi, Uttranchal etc. A host of international label Co.s like CCL, Brady’s, etc are already in the process of setting up shop in India. The successful Finat and LMAI sponsored, Euro-India label exchange, held on the sidelines of India Label Show 2006, indicated to setting up of a whole new set of joint ventures in the field of narrow web labels. It surely was interesting to see more and more of European companies registering on the show website. If registrations on the India Label Show website were any indication then surely India is the happening destination for the narrow web label industry. As per my information visitors from over 35 countries had registered. The 2006 India label show happened and it was a great success. So much so that by September 2007 it was taken over by Tarsus. The announcement of India Label show having become a part of the global labelexpo group came at the Labelexpo 2007 at Brussels. The two years following the 2006 show have seen unprecedented growth. The flock of marketing agents of most of the international press manufacturers, had shifted gears and were in an aggressive selling mode. The credit of expanding this market goes to the likes of Gaurav Roy selling all those Mark Andy’s, Ranesh Bajaj selling Rotateks, Lintec, Omega, etc. Amit Sheth selling Focus and Orthotec, Heidelberg selling Gallus machine, Vijay Pareekh offering MPS, Autoprint offering Omet, Riefenhauser selling Gidue and the list could go on. The biggest surprise came from the industry leader worldwide, Nilpeter. In 7 preceeding years they sold just one press and in the last two years they not only sold four new presses but also announced setting up of facility to produce Nilpeter presses in Chennai, India. The credit goes to the forward thinking of Dilip Shah and hard working of Manish Kapoor. The Indian press manufacturers also have made their mark, with R K Machines of Ahmedabad reporting 150 installations and Jandu reporting 26 installations in 2-3 years. There are a whole lot others but the list would become too exhaustive.Two very important happenings that took place in these two years after 2006 were first, the entry of Raflatac with setting up of their slitting facility near Mumbai and second, the expansion of Avery Dennison, with them setting up another coating laminating facilty near Pune. The competition in the labelstock segment became extremely intense. Many local stock producers suffered due to to erosion of margins and unviable credit terms. With raw material prices climbing and wafer thin profits, the time for shakeout and restructuring had arrived. Many have started looking out towards global markets or venturing into new and profitable products with synergy. During these two last years a multitude of presses have arrived in India. The likes of young Chandan Khanna, who diversified from being a sheetfed offset printer to a narrow web label printer has surprised many. In just a few years from his first one waterless offset Iwasaki press, it became three presses and then at the Labelexpo 2006 he surprised all by announcing that he had bought a Nilpeter and an MPS in one go. Prakash labels also reported unprecedented growth with their multi location manufacturing and stock facility in the UAE. Interlabels, the market leader continued to grow not only in India but also in their international operations. In south Gururaj of Wintek in Bangalore and Raveendran of Seljegat in Sivakasi were on a roll reporting fresh investments in the label business. As the inflationary pressure came to hit USA and found its way also to India, label printers who have made huge capital investments in state of art Label presses started to feel the pinch of competition coming from not only international printers but also from their local counterparts, with their relatively cheaper investments in Chinese Label presses. This period also becomes significant because of recognition of Indians in the label industry on a global scale. It was a matter of pride for me for having been chosen as the only Asian to be a member of the Finat committees. At the Finat congress 2008 in Paris, it was heartening to see many Indian faces and creditable that Bharat Mehta of Superlabels of Mumbai and Kamlesh Shah of Letragrafix were recipients of Finat awards for excellence in printing. With LMAI now becoming more active and interactive they are once again parternering Finat for yet another Indo European label exchange hopefully along with the next India Label Show 2008. LMAI is also in the advance stages of conducting a fare and competitive label awards competition, professionally. It is heartwarming that printers from surrounding countries have become or have expressed the desire to be a part of LMAI. As a young India continues to grow at a fast pace, more and more young Indians earn more and spend more, giving a big fillip to the retail industry. As the retail grows, so does the requirement of labels. There may be bad patch or a small pause but for a long time this industry has still to grow, set many landmarks and create history.
The second part written in July 2019 is published in a series of four parts. the first part 2A is available at http://bit.ly/2xOxY1P Written by Harveer Sahni, Managing Director, Weldon Celloplast Limited, New Delhi, leading manufacturers and exporters of self Adhesive Labelstocks. (first written in November-2006 and last updated in September 2008) http://www.weldoncelloplast.com/