Printing in Goa: back to the future

          Despite being the first to install a printing press
          in India, Goa's progress to print prosperity has
          been a slow one. But with industrialisation, it is
          now making up for lost time, Noel D'Cunha reports

Goa has a very special status in the history of the printed
word in India and Asia. The first-ever book in the country
was printed here.

Four and a half centuries later, and riding on the impetus
provided by industrialisation, Goa has emerged as a centre
for trading and exports, and for business opportunities.

          Around the 1970s, mining became a flourishing
          business. Tourism, fisheries, agriculture,
          pharmaceutical and breweries also started taking
          roots. The last decade and a half has seen big
          pharma, brewery and IT companies like Cipla,
          Indoco, UB Group, Zenith and other food product
          giants set up base in Goa. With new products came
          the need for packaging and printing.

Since then, a number of printing and packaging units have
sprung up to take advantage of the emerging opportunities.

There are about 30 big and medium-sized packaging plants and
over 90 big and medium-sized printing units besides a number
of small printing and screen printing units in the 22
industrial estates.

The first movers

Between 1940 and 1960 there were about four to six printers
in Goa, of which JD Fernandes, Borkar Printers and Gomantak
Printers, were the prominent ones.

Prakash Borkar, chairman of the family-managed Borkar group,
says: "Borkars started off with a small retail kiosk in 1910
in Goa and 35 years later, in 1945, it set up its first
printing unit. The type of work Borkars did then was
commercial printing jobs like cashbooks, visiting cards and
wedding cards."

Since then the Borkars have ventured into packaging,
particularly boards, as they felt that this sector would see
the largest growth. "And, it did grow. The packaging division
of Borkar group is growing at 15-20% as against the overall
group growth of 35% per annum," says Borkar.

While the prominent players continued to do business, small
entrepreneurs also jumped into the fray.

Rohidas Bandekar, who was a teacher in a local school in
Churchorem in south Goa, decided to leave his profession to
start a press -- Bandekar Offset-- with a meagre investment
of Rs 24,000.

Bandekar says: "When I started my press in 1966, I did print
jobs like bills and letterheads. Actual business started
picking up after 1969, when a major work for Government
Printing Press, for which I had tendered, came my way. There
was no looking back from there on." Today, Bandekar has two
Solnas, a Heidelberg single-colour press and two multilith
single-colour machines and is eyeing a four-colour press to
cater to multi-colour job demands.

Perfectly placed

          The packaging for pharmaceutical industry alone in
          India is considered a sunrise industry, worth about
          Rs 30,000-crore and growing at a rate of 15%

          The present downturn in financial trends
          notwithstanding, the printing industry in Goa, is
          set to see a steady flow of investment in
          infrastructure to meet the increasing local and
          export demands from IT, brewery, packaged food and
          pharma industries.

Bosch Packaging Technology has recently inaugurated a new
manufacturing facility at Verna Industrial Estate in Madgaon,
which will produce and assemble packaging technology
equipment for requirements such as candy wrapping, solid food
and biscuit packaging, packing vials, ampoules and syringes.
The company has already sold over 400 packaging machines and
process equipments in India and exported an additional 75

Manohar Packaging, which has already invested in a 12-colour
Heidelberg CD-74, recently installed a Gietz 870 foil
stamping machine, the very first in India. There are others,
like the Herald print and packaging division, which is
planning to buy a six-colour press; Shinde Packaging is
planning a paper manufacturing unit in addition to purchasing
a two-colour press; Goa Paper and Board Converters is
planning to invest Rs 6 crore (Rs 60 million) in the next
couple of years.

          The Borkar group has plants in Daman and Baddi
          (Himachal Pradesh), besides the one in Madgaon
          (Goa), with infrastructure like Manroland presses
          and a raft of die-cutting, inline stripping,
          holographic foil stamping and UV coating machines.
          Borkar, planning to bolster its printing
          capabilities in Goa and eyeing to become one of the
          biggest players in the packaging sector in India,
          says: "This is a very exciting time for the company
          and we are looking forward to adding the extra
          capacity to our existing reputation for excellent
          customer care." Borkar's clients include HLL,
          Kellogs, Wockhardt and Tata Tetley among others.

Boaventura Ferrao, director of print and packaging division
at Herald Publication, which has pharma and liquor companies
among others as their clients, says: "With the six-colour
press that we are planning to buy, we hope to fulfil our
highest expectations in terms of quality and production
capability for full-colour print and packaging requirements."

CTP, though not in vogue, is being discussed as an option to
upgrade, while digital printing is gaining in popularity.
There are about eight to 10 digital services providers in
Goa. Business Centre, had upgraded from being a copier
centre to a full-fledged digital service centre after
installation of an HP 5500PS, which followed the purchase of
Xerox DC 5000, made last year. The company is continuing with
its ambitious expansion plans. Prakash Gawas, owner of the
company, who has invested in a new site, says: "We're looking
at all aspects of diversification and entering into other
markets." The company is also planning to add another digital
press to provide its customers more flexibility, such as

The newspaper war

Post-liberation, newspapers entered a new era. In the run up
to the first general elections to the assembly of the then
Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu, at least five Marathi
dailies and one in English were started.

          Today, Navhind Times, the first English-daily is
          fighting for readership space with Herald Times and
          The Gomantak Times and the 2008-launched
          Goa-edition of the Times of India. Besides there is
          Gomantak, Tarun Bharat, Navprabha, Pudhari, Goa
          Times, Sanatan Prabhat, Govadoot -- all in Marathi
          and Sunaparant in Devanagiri-script Konkani. Goa
          Doot is the latest entrant.

The Navhind Times prints 40,000 copies at its plant in Panjim
while the Times of India has a print run of 50,000 printed at
Elegant Offset Printers in Mapusa. Herald Times prints the
most number of copies at 56,000. The other publications have
a print run of not more than 10,000 copies.

The entry of Times of India, with maximum number of colour
pages has literally bulldozed itself into the Goan newspaper
sector. It has also prompted its rival Navhind Times to
upgrade its facilities. Gazikhan Kittur, press manager at
Navhind Times, says: "We are installing a Newline 16 at our
Verna plant, after which we plan to go all colour. We are
also planning to upgrade the present pre-press system to
enhance our quality and look."

          Looking to consolidate the Times of India's
          position, Ashok Dhond, managing director at Elegant
          says: "With the existing Newslines and Cityline
          Express Tower presses, we can comfortably print
          more than the present print-run of 50,000. But
          keeping in mind future growth and to ease the
          workflow, we will soon be installing a Krause CTP
          system. With this system we will also fall in line
          with other printing plants of the Times."

Ferrao who also manages Herald's Verna plant, feels that
their newspaper Herald Times is well and truly entrenched in
the Goan market. This, he says, is achieved with the present
set-up and is good enough for any marginal increase.

Time to change

While the printing and packaging sector is doing well, there
are some who view the future, at least the near future with
scepticism. The feeling from some quarters is that the sector
is becoming ultra-competitive.

"Some individual companies are excellent," says Jaibir S
Siwach, managing director of Classic Packaging Industry,
whose company is decently placed as far as output is

Siwach has planned an investment in new machinery, but is
unwilling to execute it, not at least for a year. He says: "I
have put my plans on hold for the time being. In the last
couple of years, some small operators have invaded the print
market by installing very old presses purchased at throwaway
prices. They are doing jobs at very low margins and are able
to sustain because of low quality investment. These printers
are destroying themselves as well as those who are the
serious players."

He is of the opinion that sooner than later these machines
will give away forcing these operators to either discontinue
or invest in new machinery, which will automatically bring
the business back to normal.

The Goa print and packaging industry's other bane is skills

Fredrick Noronha, a journalist and editor of the recently
published book, In Black and White, which gives insiders'
stories about the press (journalists in newspapers) in Goa,
says: "As much as the laid-back attitude of the Goans, it is
also a fact that the skilled person does not want to work in
Goa and prefers to go to bigger cities. Add to this the fact
that the unskilled cannot be gainfully employed." This apart,
there is a general tendency among the Goan workforce to
accept a nine to five job with fixed holidays, which may not
be an option that is available with the printing industry.

Prashant Shinde of Shinde Packaging, Panjim who has
orchestrated the All Goa Paper Printing and Packaging
Association into formation, feels that a "cohesive and united
approach" is needed to tackle the problems such as
availability of raw material and load-shedding besides skills
gap, faced by the printers.


          Going back to print in Goa, the first phase of
          printing, which started in 1556, lasted only till
          the 17th century when the last book was rolled out.
          The second press came only in 1821, almost two
          centuries later.

Today, India's packaging industry is estimated to be Rs
30,000-crore and the print industry is projected to grow to
Rs 23,200-crore by 2011. The printers in Goa will need to tap
the resources they need to grasp their share. They cannot
afford to take the eye off the ball this time around.

Courtesy PrintWeek India

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