Signage Tale of Two Cities Lucknow and Kanpur anticipate robust growth

Laudable in their own positions but demanding palpable expansion in a big way, signage players in Lucknow and Kanpur are pitching for new business momentum. These two north Indian cities have enough potential to be worthy of a spearheaded signage market in near future. Though the current economic climate usually is frowned upon, many signage leaders in the region justified the situation optimistically during their interactions with SIGN & GRAPHICS team, which recently visited vast across the two cities. As there is nothing that would even remotely ordinary about the signage market of these two cities, S&G assistant editor JYANESWAR LAISHRAM rigidifies the facts around it.

Mega Trends Advertising Ltd (Lucknow)
Tending to grow higher

Shamim Khan 
Located in the heart of Lucknow city, Mega Trends Advertising Ltd has been a proven leader in the Indian signage market that exclusively operates across major cities like Kanpur, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. Adoption of latest trend in machinery and technological developments in the signage market is an age-old tradition of the company. With the constant expansion of its string of products and activities, Mega Trends is tending to grow higher in the Indian signage market.

Mega activities: Over the last 17 years of its existence, the company engaged in a wide range of remarkable signage tasks providing total end-to-end solution under one roof. Its specialisation consists of unmatched outdoor solutions in digital printing, in-shop or on-shop visual merchandising, approach signage, etc. To mention the company’s proven expertise in top line outdoor mediums for a perfect brand activities, it would extensively include billboards, bus shelters, kiosks, gantry, police booths, tree guards, mall branding and many more.

Machine portfolio: Equipped with an array of high-end Mutoh printers from Negi Sign Systems & Supplies Co, Mega Trends has been popular for its excellence in outputs. The latest additions in the company’s machine portfolio would include the recent installations of a new HP XLJet printer and a Mutoh ValueJet (VJ-1604) at its state-of-the-art facility. The company’s infrastructures meet the best of demands in both quality and versatility in the gradually emerging signage market of India.

Unique divisions: Mega Trends has two peculiar divisions engaging in different aspects of the company’s marketing and management activities. The first division, Mega Trends Management manages the cricket endorsement business for some contracted international cricketers in the Indian cricket team. And role of the second division, Mega Trends Marketing, is exclusively of marketing and distribution of imported fitness equipments marketed to consumers through various retailers.

Major clientele: Striving to give the best products and services to its clients, the company has long list of popular clients from different industrial segments. They are ITC, Pepsi, Vodafone, Reliance Infocom, Tata Indicom, Bharat Gas, Idea, Airtel, Nokia, etc. And the company is forwarding to expand its clientele list with a vision to become an important inter-phase between the consumers and corporate utility service providers.

Business growth: As part of the current woes in unhealthy economic environment, Mega Trend feels the market moving a bit slow. “Current market situation is really hectic and disturbed to accelerate business in right speed,” opined Shamim Khan, managing director, Mega Trend Advertising Ltd. However, he is quite positive that this situation is just for a short time and everything will be recovered soon in a better condition. There is no doubt to mention that Mega Trends has so far been known for its business growth in distinctive manner.

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Fusion Signs Pvt Ltd (Lucknow)
Moving one step ahead

(From right) Sanjiv Gupta, Sushant Gupta and Shalab Gupta. 
Signage industry is considered to be one of the most dynamic sectors where new technology and services emerge in every quarter. Striding along this gradual thrust is the Lucknow-based Fusion Signs Pvt Ltd whose footprints have been carved distinct in the north Indian signage market. Since its establishment in 2000, the company has always been one step ahead in the market. “Anticipating what would come next in the market, we make our move with an aim to update our infrastructures as well as outputs,” said Sanjiv Gupta, director, Fusion Signs Pvt Ltd.

Complete solution: Signified itself as a complete solution to every need in the signage market, the company produces anything that comes under the roof of signage industry. From production to installation that take place all over Uttar Pradesh, the company boasts of being a provider of complete signage solution to its clients. “Right from buying iron rods, vinyl printing up to designing, fabrication and installation, we do A-Z in signage,” said Sanjiv.

Latest i the machine portfolio, Jeti machine and HP 5100 in its facility taking good care of high quality digital needs. Along with laser engravers and CNC router for POP manufacturing, whatever machines required in sign making and/or fabrications are perfectly installed in the facility. “We can proudly say that ours is a complete house for production. There’s nothing that would be sourced from outside,” stated Sanjiv.

Full grown: Talking about those initial days when the company first stepped into signage business with minimal infrastructure, Sanjiv recollected that Fusion Signs Pvt Ltd had only one four-feet vinyl-cutting plotter. But the efforts to make the business grow to the fullest kept continuing as new machines were added in every single year. “We installed solvent printing machine in 2001; ColorSpan and other machines one after another every year,” said Sanjiv adding that the company installed Jeti printer with a Sky Walker as backup to meet their clients’ demands for high-quality printings.

Main clients: Telecom industry, public sector enterprises and banking segment are main areas where the company has roped in to date. In addition, the company has proved its excellence in electronics signage by getting hold of giant players in the segment. Acclaimed for its in-shop branding work, Fusion Signs Pvt Ltd has big plans to grab new areas in this domain. Commenting on a new move Sanjiv mentioned UV technology would be the company’s next offer to their clients. “As of now Lucknow doesn’t show sufficient business volume for UV, but I see it would develop soon,” assured Sanjiv.

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Darpan Publicity (P) Limited (Lucknow)
Measuring market meaningfully

Anurag Bansal & RP Bansal 
Fully engaged in hoarding making, Darpan Publicity (P) Ltd came into existence in the year 1991. But the company changed its stance in multi-directional ways in the late 1997 following the installation of an inkjet machine from Roland. Adoption of wide-format printing was a big transition phase for Darpan maintaining high-quality productions so far. In 2000, the company installed Ess Dee Nutek printer and ten-foot DGI machine. “With such step-by-step up-gradation of our infrastructure, we eventually find our way to the latest installation of Jeti machine in our production facility,” said Anurag Bansal, managing director, Darpan Publicity (P) Limited.

Corporate clients: Darpan’s list of clients primarily comprises corporate giants in the telecommunication sector: Airtel, Reliance, Idea and Vodafone, to mention a few. It is obvious that many printers all over India accomplish big business with clients from certain segments like liquor and retail. However, Anurag reasoned that Darpan is not ready to get on these sectors because telecommunication segment always remained as a boon in their business. “Sectors like liquor and retail keep changing their policies every year. And so far we couldn’t find any big chances in telecommunication segments,” he added.

Slow market: It may or may not be linked with the current global economic slowdown, Darpan however feels the slow motion of market. Pointing particularly to corporate clients, Anurag explained that workload has been declined due to gradual decrease in budget in the telecommunication sector. “I couldn’t give the specific reason why it happens. But some factors like shifting of IPL venue to South Africa resulting in drastic loss to signage companies in India,” explained Anurag adding that Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010 couldn’t make the way that it was supposed to be with IPL.

Price adjustment: In order to bring a new growth momentum in the current market situation, Anurag opined that rates in the market should be adjusted as per increase in infrastructure costs. “Since the cost of high-quality printing materials such as inks have been sky rocketed, we should wisely give awareness of it to our clients,” said Anurag. He also added that such decision would be settled shortly.

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Dudwa Trading Company (Lucknow)
Young but experienced in trade

Harsh Agarwal 
Run by young and enthusiastic proprietor Harsh Agarwal, Dudwa Trading Company is just a 4-5 months old media supplier but it has long list of authentic clients. “As long as my experience in the market is mentioned, I have been in touch with leading signage players in Lucknow city for a long time. That’s why I finally decided to serve them by supplying media at the best level,” said Harsh. Operating strongly in Lucknow city and planning to mark its presence in other parts of Uttar Pradesh, clients for whom Dudwa Trading has tied up include Darpan, Fusion Signs Pvt Ltd, Diksha Advertising & Printing (P) Ltd, Hindustan Advertising, etc.

Demand slots: Depending on different groups of signage players, the company maintains shelves of media in varied qualities. “We keep media for Chinese printers that would be lighter and cheaper. Whereas for those printers in contract segment our media are of heavy quality,” Harsh mentioned. He further added that his company extensively supplies lighter media to users and converters around Lucknow city, but in corporate segment people demand for 340 gsm media. However, he provides whole lot of 13 ounce in some specific segments like outdoor media. Segregating the demands in current market, Harsh specified that 75 percent in 260-300 gsm non-lit media, 20 percent of 340 gsm and the rest percentage goes to 440 gsm.

Cost and quality: In an overall observation, Harsh mentioned that ‘Star’ brand is the costliest but highly acclaimed media in the market. “Star’s backlit flex are sold very expensively and some Chinese brands in backlit category are comparatively cheaper,” Harsh said. Talking in terms of best quality media in the Indian market, he specified that 3M would be on top. However, the products, which 3M converters normally get, are available only through 3M distributors in the big market like Delhi, conveyed Harsh.

Expansion plan: Though the company focuses extensively on Lucknow, its operation covers across other cities like Kanpur and Varanasi. “We are planning to increase the volume of our stock by ordering media from Delhi, Kolkata and Allahabad to fit ourselves best in the market,” asserted Harsh while talking about where his young company is heading towards to get full-grown business in near future.

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Hindustan Advertising (Lucknow)
Rising to meet the standard

Asif Kidwai (extreme left) with associates 
Countable as one of the players boosted recently with the expansion of its production unit in Lucknow signage market is Hindustan Advertising. The company recently installed a new Jeti 3312 machine at its production facility located in Aliganj and has proved to meet demands for high-quality printing in Lucknow. Established in 2003 with a machine portfolio of a four-feet DGI printer at first and followed by Infinity and Roland inkjet printers in the following years, Hindustan Advertising today attains the position accredited to a state-of-the-art production unit.

Major clients: Having been serving for all sorts of clients from different industrial blocks, the company makes its presence remarkable in the corporate world. To name some of the major clients, the list will consist of Vodafone, Coca Cola, ACC Cement, Amul and multinational ice cream companies. “Since our inception, we’ve been walking along with these clients by giving best satisfactory outputs to their demands,” said Asif Kidwai, proprietor, Hindustan Advertising.

Quality count: Activities of Hindustan Advertising define a complete indoor and outdoor advertising solution that provides printing, fabrication and installation across Lucknow city. “We have a dedicated team working hard to meet deadlines at the cost of best outputs. In order to deliver signage materials, we keep ready two trucks to be used for transportation,” said Asif. Stressing on the reason behind the company’s instant growth, Asif talked about their consistency in quality that makes them able to install Jeti printer in a short span.

“Though we have met comprehensive demands of our clients, requirement of highest quality output was always on our mind. This was the point that instilled us to install a Jeti machine,” said Asif. He further mentioned that some companies (clients) insist for prints that can be done only on Jeti or other quality machines.

Beyond UP: Currently operating only in the UP state, the company has policy to expand its wings in other parts of the country. “Our next target is to open a unit in Delhi and it could extend to some parts of Punjab,” stated Asif adding that the company already worked with some clients in Rajasthan but not succeeded much due to the lack of local administrative branch in the area.

Irrespective of slow growth in the market, Asif is very positive about Hindustan Advertising’s expansion plan. “Recession is not a new phenomenon. This will take place from time to time at any level whether high or low. But we should be strong enough to move ahead defeating all such market hurdles. If you move backward in fear of recession, how could we grow in the market?” said Asif.

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Diksha Advertising & Printing (Lucknow)
Known for quality

A big name in the world of advertising and designing in north India in general and UP in particular, Diksha Advertising & Printing (Pvt) Ltd was a brainchild of brother duo Puneet Ohri and Aman Ohri. Established in 1996 as a classified ad agency in its initial stage, the company eventually switched over to display ads and further concentrating on print media segment, activities of Diksha extended over to outdoor signage segment. “Right from the year 2003 we kept installing printing machines and expanded our works supported by a team of creative graphic and designing artists whom we call unsung heroes,” said Puneet Ohri.

Equipped with Roland inkjet, Epson and Yaslan printers, infrastructure at Diksha’s production facility is still to be expanded. “Machines we have installed at our facility are approved by our clients. And our expansion plan aims at Jeti machine in near future to reach a new level in our high-quality outputs,” said Puneet.

Clientele list: In the list of prolific clients of Diksha are Airtel, Samsung, Tata Motors, Bajaj and Maruti whose cooperation with the company has been excellent. “We have also closely worked with Information Bureau, Government of Uttar Pradesh. All hoardings of BSP throughout the state were designed and produced by us,” said Puneet.

Future expansion: Encouraged by the responses from its clients, the company went ahead and opened some new branches in other cities across India. With its unit in New Delhi, Diksha is planning to move towards Mumbai, particularly for an electronics signage studio and other cities like Allahabad, Dehradun, Hyderabad and few more.

Recession remedy: Diksha pronounces something different when it comes to the effect of recession. “Whether in boom or depression period, one cannot ignore the fact of advertising. Because advertising is one of the most vital tools that could recover any loss in trade or business during recession. That’s why we survive!” said Puneet.

Bharat Construction Company (Lucknow)
Long way to success

If we have to enumerate those companies which have seen the changes taking place in the region’s signage industry, Bharat Construction Company could not be skipped even by mistake. This company has come a long way experiencing different phases of signage in different periods of time. “When the company was first established in 1984, things were totally different from what we see or experience today,” recalled G M Chowdhary, proprietor, Bharat Construction Company.

The beginning: There were no printing machines but a creative team of people to design and paint hoardings or posters manually at Bharat Construction Company when the company first stepped into the world of signage. Recollecting those early days of the company, Chowdhary affirmed that their decade-old manual painting works came to an end following the installation of a Roland machine in 1998. “Since then our signage business geared up to a new pace. And transition took place year after year with the addition of new machines in our facility,” said Chowdhary. In 2004 Seema Chowdhary joined the business and took charge of the account section and since then the base has been improved and the company has flourished a lot more further.

Machine portfolio: Infrastructure of Bharat Construction Company keeps updating in its attempt to meet the demands of its clients. From 10-feet DGI machine up to 10-feet SpaceJet and Mutoh machines, the company is now installing Mimaki eco-solvent machine shortly. “We have already finalised for the Mimaki machine just a few days back and in the pipeline is ValueJet as well,” revealed Chowdhary.

Foreseen plan: Primarily capturing government sectors to a large extent, the company’s list of clients however include some from telecommunication segment. The list is still expanding to add more with the adoption of new technologies coming up in the market. More than just a considerable notion, a foremost plan ahead for Bharat Construction Company is that Chowdhary foresees his young school-going son Chowdhary Sameer, who cares much about the company these days, would join the league of legacy in future.

Swan Advertising (P) Ltd (Lucknow)>
Communicating socially

(From left) Swan Advertising directors Vivek Puri, A K Singh, Yogesh Gupta and Vinod Gupta 
One might surely get mesmerised at first sight of the Swan Advertising (P) Ltd building located on the green belt of serene Sri Ram Kunj, Faridi Nagar, Lucknow. The impression of the company will be multiplied when one comes to know what they are in the signage market. Established under a combine force formed by four gentlemen who were in different trades, Swan Advertising was a unique entity providing varied outdoor signage products. Talking about the potential that instilled to give birth the company, Yogesh Gupta, director, Swan Advertising (P) Ltd said, “When we started our business, the concept of auto-panel signage was quite an innovative idea in Lucknow. Even no signage media company in all over UP ever thought of it by that time.”

Grand start: Since the introduction of 3×2 ft auto-panel signage, which was designed to fit in three-wheeler taxis (autos) plying around Lucknow city, Swan Advertising’s status soared high and many signage companies from far off cities enquired about their innovative product, according to Yogesh. “In our first attempt we installed signage panel of Onida in 1000 autos that impressed commuters in an unbelievable manner,” mentioned Yogesh. “And the second innovative signage that worked great was ‘video van’ which we introduced for showing social health development programmes in rural areas,” he added.

Still the signage works of Swan Advertising in rural communication is considered to be the forerunner in all over UP as well as Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh where the company has opened its branch offices.

Leading clients: Swan Advertising’s signage certainly exemplify, inform and educate people about social awareness. Working closely with international organisations like UNICEF, BBC World Service Trust, ICDS, etc the company is not simply working as sign maker but also taking major role to provide the medium that generates the most basic social awareness to general public.

Safety segment: When the topic of current recession relates to Swan Advertising’s business, Yogesh stated that the company is far from such periodic economic calamity because they are confined under government’s social development sector. “Now we are in good terms and relation with this sector and still a load of projects are in the pipeline to work out in the next few years,” said Yogesh.

Next move: In order to provide all types of signage to their clients Swan Advertising keeps themselves ready to move forward. In this respect, Yogesh mentioned that the company installed Nutek machine with an aim to work on outdoor campaigns for their clients. “As we have been well established in social communication sector, our next move will be in outdoor signage that would be a new challenge and opportunity for us,” asserted Yogesh.

The Passion Advertisers (Lucknow)
Passionately planning expansion

Emerged as a mere ad agency just three years back, The Passion Advertisers finally found the passion to grow big in the signage market with the installation of a new Nutek machine. Since the installation of this machine from Ess Dee Nutek Infinities Pvt Ltd the company grew to a new height in the signage segment. “We regularly get proper workloads from companies whom we have been in touch since our old days. If we move further in this resourceful business, I hope we can expand our business as well as set-up in the next few years,” said A A Khan, proprietor, The Passion Advertising.

Activity range: Located in a congested basement in Karamat Market, Nishantganj one cannot believe that The Passion Advertisers would engage in a long range of activities including flex printing, vinyl printing, glow signboard, indoor and outdoor publicity. “With the increase of manpower and infrastructure in our production facility we will extend our activities much more than the existing,” said Khan.

Prominent clients: The clients whom The Passion Advertising has been worked with are Britania, Nerolac, TATA Motors, etc. But the passion to grab more corporate clients is still in the policy of the company hose future is to expand bigger in the years to come.

K Unique Solutions (Kanpur)
Leading LED way

Uniqueness of K Unique Solutions is its wide range of innovative LED products that hit the UP market impressively. As a supplier to many leading players in Kanpur city, the company has been working with companies like Avon Awnings. K Unique Solutions has a long product range comprising concept lighting, agricultural lights, industrial lights, glow signage, slim signage, LED halogen and lots more. “Apart from our supply in the north Indian region, we cover the south Indian markets too. We have installed many LED boards in the cities like Bangalore,” said Krishna K Sharma, proprietor, K Unique Solutions.

Signage share: It is quite a fact that LED lights are not meant for signage only. When the market of LED light grows, it benefits both domestic requirements as well as commercial signage. In this respect Krishna explained, “As of now our company is working on 50:50 ratio of products dividing between domestic and signage.”

LED dominance: As far as the emergence of LED signage market is concerned, there are certain advantages whereupon this new technology is gearing up. “We can simply say that LED is the future of signage. With this technology one can save both cost and energy consumption in compare with conventional signage using ordinary electric lights,” said Krishna.

Kesarwani Advertiser (Kanpur)
Soaring high locally

Established in 1981, the activities of Kesarwani Advertiser increased manifold with the installation of a vinyl-cutting machine in 1994. And the year 2001 was a big turning point in their facility where a Nutek machine was installed and expanded the volume of production. “From time to time we observe market situations and accordingly install machines suitably meeting the demands of our clients,” said Dilip Kesarwarni, proprietor, Kesarwarni Advertiser.

Local clients: It may sound like Kesarwani Advertiser works in narrow margins when it says the company primarily focuses only on local clients. That is not so at all because the company deals with whole lot of the advertisers in Kanpur whose major clients are domestic companies like MDH, Ashok Masala, Sabji Masala, etc.

Valued association: With an objective to regularise the fluctuated rates in the signage market, Kesrawani Advertiser has recently initiated Uttar Pradesh Advertisers’ Association. Comprising 171 members from different spheres of the signage market, around 50 percent of them are sign makers and rest consists of medium to small-scale advertisers. “Our aim is to walk together at the same level in order to strengthen the market stability of the industry” said Dilip Kesarwani adding that the association will now be centred only in Kanpur but will soon be expanded to cover all over UP. Kesrawani is the current president of the association and his tenure will last for the next five years.

Avon Awnings (Kanpur)>
Expanding bigger

The name itself tells that Avon Awnings was a company started with its main business in awning in 1996. It is a fact that awning was quite a new concept in whole of UP when this company introduced the concept in a vast extent. “Later on we included outdoor signage as major part in our activities in which we catered our products to clients in all major cities including Lucknow, Allahabad, Varanasi, etc,” said Avon Awning director Akash Chadha adding that Uttaranchal is also a feasible region in their coverage.

Grand entry: The company’s strong entry into the signage has captured a myriad of clients from different industrial segments. Telecommunication companies, soft drink majors and other corporate giants are in Avon Awnings’ existing list of clients. “We are now closely working with leading companies like Reliance, Idea, Airtel, Vodafone, ACC Cements, etc in our outdoor signage segment,” said Akash adding that the company is aiming at residential areas in awning supply. He further mentioned that the scope of awning in residential areas has become broader in major cities in UP.

Best facility: Equipped with a range of high-end Jeti, Mutoh, Soljet and HP printers, Avon Awnings boasts of its remarkable high-tech production unit. “With our generous start with all such machines, we have recently added a new Jeti back-to-back machine,” said Akash. And the next big thing the company has been looking forward is the expansion of LED works at Avon Awnings. “We also focus vastly on our neon segment; we have installed UP’s biggest ever neon signage measuring 1000 sq ft in Lucknow,” mentioned Akash.

Moving ahead: Though the company could not escape from its parent awning business, the right momentum is towards outdoor signage including LED products. “Since our company brought up with awning as its main activity, we still reserve 20 percent for that and remaining we wish to apply wholeheartedly in outdoor signage,” said Ritesh Chadha, director, Avon Awning. Being a 3M authorised converter, Avon Awnings captured a good number of clients in banking, oil industry and telecommunication.

Coming to what it stores in pipeline as expansion plan, Ritesh mentioned that they would conduct workshops in industrial areas to measure the market potentials. “We are already in touch with Spencer’s, but still looking forward to benchmark more in retail sector shortly,” mentioned Ritesh. Talking about the current economic hindrances, Avon Awnings somewhat feels the downturn because its clients in telecommunication segment cut down expenditure on signage. “Since October 2008 we have been experiencing a bit slow market, but I can assure this would come to normal in a few months,” said Ritesh.

Kanta Incorporation (Kanpur)
Best in its own way

Worked primarily under the government contracts for national highway signage, Kanta Incorporation has been recognised in the region’s signage market for its unbeatable works. Around 85 percent of its works are for public sectors and that of the remaining 10-15 percent devoted to local level. “We have been working on developmental projects of the railways, PWD and national highways. And we meet their demands at the best satisfactory levels,” said Anil Kumar, proprietor, Kanta Incorporation.

Forward move: Of course, the future of signage market is wide open because more workloads and better prospect are ahead. However, Anil opined that the small market like Kanpur is still in growing stage and attainment of its maturity may take sometime. However, Kanta Incorporation is looking forward to see more potential to develop the market. While talking about machine portfolio, Anil said, “We have installed solvent and inkjet printers which meet the existing workloads, but from time to time we would review to adopt new technologies as per our requirement.”

Recession advantage: Amid the current recession one can find some players rather in a good move in their business. No doubt, Kanta Incorporation is one of those basking good business without facing the heat of economic slowdown. “We are quite far from such economic crisis usually faced by those in corporate world. In such situation whosoever working with public sector enterprises somewhat gains in a way the government will spend more to curb the economic lopsidedness,” said Anil.

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