Depiction of Kolkata (Calcutta) in Dominique Lapierre’s City of Joy will no longer be relevant to characterise the contemporary status of this eastern Indian city. One may find those traditional human-horse rickshaws still plying on city roads, but ever-growing development in the city underlines many verticals in various segments, particularly in signage. SIGN & GRAPHICS team in their visit to the city interacts with some signage players whose contributions form the backbone of the city’s signage industry.Leading players in Kolkata signage segment are predominantly young in the industry but old in allied trades. Dynamism of growth in the region is quite affirmative with UV technology looming large to hit the market sooner than later. Eying what is in store ahead, key players like Stylo Maximage, Wonder Images, Sign & Graphic Centre and others have the zeal to accelerate Kolkata signage market to a new pace. Business expansion and adoption of new machines/technologies are main buzz among them. JYANESWAR LAISHRAM says their visions are genuine and have been shared by most of the players whom SIGN & GRAPHICS magazine has interacted with during recent visits to south and north Indian markets.
Stylo Maximage : Surging superb
Arvind jain & Priyanka Jain
Tantamount to old wine in a new bottle, the history of Stylo Maximage dates back to many generations in the printing industry. The company stepped into the digital print arena in 2002 and recently gave birth to its brand BEYONCE, just a few months old but mature enough to impress whole lot of the industry. “In keeping with our vision of constantly acquiring the best and thus delivering the best to our discerning clients by bringing to their doorstep global standards of digital printing, today we embark upon one of the most contemporary and prospective digital printing domains,” remarks Arvind Jain, director, Stylo Maximage.
The company’s clientele scattered all over the Eastern Indian market include big leaders in telecom, real estate and construction sectors, retail stores, media houses, advertising agencies, banks, FMCG’s, leading jewellery houses and more. Equipped with high-end solvent, eco-solvent and UV flatbed machines, efficient professionals at Stylo Maximage bring out spectacular results. “With flatbed printing, we are trying to discover a new entity covering a wide range of segments starting from households to corporate,” says Priyanka Jain, CEO, Stylo Maximage adding that they would cater extensively as per the demands of customers. Personalised indoor decors, office interiors and innovative retail branding are new domains the company has been focusing on deeply.
Qualities that make the company stand different from others in the market are its customer-centric work culture, constant technological up-gradation and consistency in output. “We understand the importance of being a consultant to our customers in terms of offering clients with solutions corresponding to their unique requirement, befitting their identity and sensibility. Our deep concern is to balance between quality of the products we offer and its cost effectiveness,” elucidates Priyanka. Stressing on the position of UV printing in the eastern Indian region, Arvind opines that the technology is still in growing stage. “Market will grow to a new extent when people fully understand the value, capability and volume of work that can be done by UV printers,” he adds. In the same context, Priyanka determines that flatbed printing involves immense scope for creativity and can offer a lot of innovative application possibilities in the industry.
Wonder Images Pvt Ltd: Wonderfully works
As long as the company involves with works of corporate players, it ought to be ascertained to have a high-end machine portfolio. No wonder, Wonder Images is the one with such stance with outstanding impression to its clients in the eastern Indian signage market. Sprouted from a small set-up in 2004 with an ordinary Chinese Spectrahead machine, the company gained a new image after the adoption of EFI’s Vutek UltraVu 3360 machine in 2006. “In the same year we added two HP Scitex XLjet 1500 followed by an HP 5500 and we set up our own design studio,” explains Amit Murarka, director, Wonder Images.
When the company captured corporate clients in telecommunication sector it was eventually the high-quality production that counted a lot which encouraged them to install EFI’s Vutek machine & HP Scitex XLJet 1500. ‘No Quality Compromise’—motto of the company’s management led to ISO 9001-2000 certification and making them the authorised converter for Star Flex in Eastern India. Telecom majors, FMCG MNC’s and real estate firms operating all over the eastern region are in the company’s clientele list. In addition, pharmaceutical and retail are the segments other than the existing ones the company is planning to robe in shortly.
Like what others in the industry feel, Amit points out that UV printing is still a novice technology in India. He opines that the development of flatbed machines in the Indian market should start with basic awareness programmes on the technology—how UV printers print on glass, wood, stone etc as well as the prospects and advantages of the technology in precise way?
B Saha & Co: Locally lucrative
Basudev Shah, proprietor of B Saha & Co is a man in the industry who struggled enough to pull himself to his position currently donning. Initial stage of the company was completely a different story far truncated from flex printing where Basudev engaged in bookbinding and stitching business. “After a thorough observation of every in and out of the printing industry, I had shifted my business to photocopying in 2002,” recollects Basudev. And a big turn in the company took place in 2007 when he entered into wide-format printing by installing a Nutek Prime 3212 machine.
Though the company runs with a lone Nutek printer, it captures customers from all over West Bengal and neighbouring region of Bihar. Concerning the fact that every company has its own stance in the market, B Saha & Co does not go for corporate people. “You can call us small-scale printer whose works consist of only those with local clients,” explains Basudev. He continues that flex printing has become popular in the local election campaigns and in addition to that B Saha & Co is genuine signage provider to grocery stores and small shops from many parts of West Bengal and Bihar.
Ad World Services: Covering wide
K K Mandal
Another big name in the list of those players working in a big way in and around West Bengal would surely be Ad World Services. Real estate firms and finance companies located across Kolkata and its neighbouring cities form the company’s client list. “LIC, Max New York Life, Reliance Mutual Fund are our ever-lasted clients over the years,” says M K Mandal, proprietor, Ad World Services adding that the company frames its own policy to choose reliable clients.
Since its establishment in the year 2005 the company has been maintaining a regular momentum of business giving best of outputs to its clients across the eastern region. Initially, the company unveiled its service with a DGI machine, which had been recently replaced by a ColorJet E-A2 from Apsom. It is not only printing in the end but also designing and fabrications done at Ad World Services. “When Spice mobile first hit the Kolkata city, we fabricated the company’s neon boxes,” mentions Mandal. Indeed, a world of all services!
Sign & Graphic Centre: Solely signage
It is obvious that the evolution of flex printing has revolutionised various aspects in the printing industry. A simple instance: those old hand-painted movie posters have been vanished from the walls and Sign & Graphic Centre is playing great role to supply those flex-printed cinema banners of new releases all across West Bengal. “Over the last six months, I have observed that the demand for flex-banners in Bengali film industry has been enormously increased,” says Pramod Kedia, proprietor, Sign & Graphic Centre. He further adds that a normal film company requires posters of nearly 40-50 thousand sq ft flex during a new release. Six film companies are in its current roaster that forms 50 percent of total workloads of the company.
Sign & Graphic Centre was established in 1994 merely equipped with a Gerber vinyl-cutting machine, which was replaced by four subsequent 4-feet plotter machines from Apsom during a span of seven years. After that the company was the first installer of DGI Rex 62 followed by DGI Rex 100D and Roland SolJet. As of now the company’s state-of-the-art production unit is equipped with Salora, S-printer, Yaselan, Caldron in solvent portfolio along with two eco-solvent machine HP 5500 and Mutoh ValueJet.
Most of the company’s works are through agents who deal with more than one company. “Working directly with clients needs some extra effort as we have to have marketing team to deal with them. That’s why we outsourced the marketing activities to some middleman agents,” reasons Pramod. While commenting on UV printing, he says that the technology does not impress much at the moment because Sign & Graphic Centre is nothing more to focus except outdoor hoardings.
Woodban Advertising: Solution maker
As many things in this world come out of blue, Woodban Advertising is no exception in this respect. Udayan Banerjee, chief executive of the company, started as a sales executive in Johnson & Johnson Ltd and subsequently worked for various leading companies that led him to rise to the position of regional sales manager (east)—which had nothing to do with printing industry—prior to the inception of Woodban Advertising. All of a sudden an unexplainable impulse influenced Udayan to start his own business, which was printing. He subsequently quit his job and unveiled a small screen-printing unit with a meagre investment in 1995.
All that Woodban Advertising had in the initial stage when the company switched over to wide-format printing was just an HP 5000 PS in 2002. In the following years, the machine portfolio boosted to a new height after installing an eco-solvent SolJet printer and a Roland FJ 51 inkjet printer from Apsom. Gradual expansion of its infrastructure as well as work range over the years helps the company stand in a leading position in the contemporary eastern Indian signage market. “Today, we are a complete solution house owning inkjet, solvent, eco-solvent and lamination set-up. Our service is a full package containing right from layout designing to fabrication and installation,” states Udayan.
Major corporate clients that the company has been working with include Nestle, ICICI Bank, Canon India, Mother Dairy Calcutta, Amul and many others. The company has its own design studio comprising a strong team of graphic designers who work alongside the concept inputs from the concerned clients. “We need to interact with our clients at every stage just to achieve the goal –the client should get the best,” says Udayan adding that this is the hallmark of works the company has been maintaining and operating all over West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and North-East.
Future projection of the company’s new business is solely about adoption of UV flatbed printing. Prospects of UV printing in in-shop branding are expected to have a boom. “However, flatbed printing in eastern India is still at a nascent stage and industry people should carry on to improve it as it happened once with flex printing when it was first introduced to Kolkata; in fact, every new concept has hurdles to cross,” asserts Udayan.
Perfect Colour Print: Expanding wide
Every player in the Kolkata wide-format market has a unique story to unfold regarding his voyage into this new landscape of the printing industry. Amid those industry veterans and newcomers from allied segments are Vijay Jain and A K Das partners of Perfect Colour Print who solely dedicated to photo studio and digital printing earlier but their business expanded to a new domain of flex and vinyl printing in 2005. “I had decided to install a Nutek Prime 3208 machine after seeing the potential in the signage market, particularly in the eastern India,” says Vijay adding that the company has also been planning to expand their photography segment by adding digital photography, photo album making, etc alongside the flex printing.
Cornered in a narrow street in Kolkata city, the compact and congested production unit of Perfect Colour Print produces outstanding works for both domestic and multinational companies. Sahara India, Ford William, SBI Life Insurance, Advertising Bureau of West Bengal, Birla Institute of Technology & Science are some of the major clients the company has been involved along all sort of signage works including printing, final fabrication and installation. “So far, we haven’t taken any orders from any other states except West Bengal; but we are now ready to spread our wings if any good opportunity exits from any corner of the country.”
When it comes to talking about flatbed machine, Perfect Colour Print keeps eco-solvent or inkjet vinyl printing on top priority for its adoption in near future. “It will be just a matter of a few months that we would be installing a new eco-solvent machine for vinyl printing,” mentions Vijay while talking about the company’s future expansion plan.
Mam-Ad: World over
Merely two-year-old in the industry but it acts like an old giant. Here comes Mam-Ad, one of the leaders in the eastern signage market whose works have been recognised by many ad agencies and local companies across the region. Incepted with a Nutek Infinity machine with XAAR head, the machine portfolio of the company kept expanding with the adoption of two more Infinity machines with Spectraheads within a period of 10 months. “What we are planning at the moment is to purchase a machine with Konika heads after Durga Puja festival,” remarks Rabin Chowdhury, proprietor, Mam-Ad adding that the new head has superb spray technology that can produce high-quality prints.
It may sound so local when it mentions that Mam-Ad works only for ad agencies in Kolkata. However, the story is something else when these agencies bring works of corporate firms and multinational companies. “I come across banners of many overseas companies printed at our facilities,” mentions Rabin. He also says that those ad agencies in their roster work for companies based in Hong Kong, Sharjah and other foreign counties.
Ideal Media Printer: Flex destination
Ideal Media Printer is known particularly for its dealership of Simco media brand in the eastern signage market as well as in some parts of Jharkhand. “Our supply covers entire city of Kolkata, Guwahati, Siliguri, Agartala and other neighbouring cities like Ranchi in Jharkhand,” says Santosh Kumar, proprietor. Around three containers in a month is the volume of supply by the company to its clients. Popular sizes of media at Ideal Media Printer are of 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10 feet widths. Specific section of printers opts for media of their choice, but Simco is largely demanded by those with Vutek machines, according to Santosh.
In the diversified Indian signage market, it will never make good business sense to deal only with a particular quality (product).
Keeping this idea in mind, Ideal Media Printer shelves all media of different qualities. “In the current market, I appreciate high-quality product like Max media, but the point is not every printer will choose it. That’s why we keep Chinese media too, which are indeed affordable and applicable at various levels,” explains Santosh while commenting on current market demand in the eastern Indian signage sector.
Asian Graphics: Looking ahead
Now that Asian Graphics has been gaining smooth business ever since its inception in 2005, the company is still galloping forward to add more in terms of machines and volume of works. Equipped with Nutek Infinity, the production facility of the company will expand sooner than later with the addition of a few more. In the ever-growing signage market, it is obvious that demands always do overtake supplies. Along this context, S Alam, proprietor, Asian Graphics feels that production facility should see a revamp from time to time.
Predominantly from West Bengal itself but the clients of Asian Graphics consist of those from neighbouring areas like Malda, Ranchi, Guwahati and other small towns in Northeast and Bihar. Despite the fact that router business is still a dead ingredient in the eastern Indian signage market, Asian Graphics wants to vitalise this new entity. “So far, we couldn’t see enough router machines in the city, but we have a feeling that this technology will gear up soon in the region,” comments Alam with an enthusiasm to give a new acceleration to the company.
Reflex: Exclusively outdoor
Bivash with Reflex team
Young players are common characters in the contemporary Kolkata signage segment. It proves that the industry is still young and companies like three-year-old Reflex are pillars of future growth. Established in 2006, Reflex has installed Nutek Prime 3208 machine to work with ad agencies. “We work for 15 ad agencies based in Kolkata and other parts of the eastern Indian region,” reveals Bivash Das, proprietor, Reflex. Of them some are from Northeast states like Tripura and others.
Those ad agencies Reflex has been robed in have clients from all walks of life. “Right from the reputed company like Reliance, other small and medium firms related to retail stores, mobile outlets, schools and wholesale companies are in our list,” states Bivash. Talking about long range of the company’s job profile, he mentions, “Reflex is not about printing only as we are responsible for fabrication and installation works too for those ad agencies.” Most-talked about UV printing is now in the backseats of the company’s expansion policy as Reflex is solely dedicated to billboards at the moment, according to Bivash.
SIGNAGE: Media corner
Along with the printers are media dealers whose roles in the industry are equally important. Absence of good media suppliers in a signage market will miss the essence of flamboyancy. So is the reason why Signage exists in the Kolkata signage market. This media store largely deals with Pioneer brand, Chinese materials and also flex from a recently established Indian manufacturer based in Gurgaon, Haryana. “Apart from being dealers of particular media, we keep a range of brands as per the demands in the market,” says Samrat Sinha, proprietor, Signage.
Regardless of Star Flex and Pioneers being high-quality media in the market, Samrat mentions that the volume of demand is something different. “In the current Kolkata market, Chinese media are forerunner,” he says giving the reason that the mid-level companies in the city prefer these affordable media. He further adds that no other media in the market could balance cost and quality like Chinese media do. But he keeps his tone firmly appreciating the guaranteed quality of Pioneer media. In addition to media are inks and acrylic sheets that fill the shelves of Dream Sign. Inks available at the store include the brands like Sericol, Blackjet, SamInk, etc.
Kolkata is now heading towards a new direction gaining a new momentum in terms of growth in the signage market. “I’ve been into the industry since last ten years and as per my observation I find the eastern market growing at around 30 percent over the period,” asserts Samrat pointing out the region’s future market prospect.
Help Card Desk Co Pvt Ltd: Widening business
Healthy business environment of the eastern Indian wide-format market attracted many new players in the segment. Help Card Desk Co, whose main activity was solely photocopy, was one such company who landed newly in the signage segment with instant capture of the country’s leading advertising agencies in its clientele. Established in 2000, the company entered into the flex printing business this year only by installing a VK-Jet 3200 series printer with Konica printhead. “After seeing healthy business environment in signage world, I developed new contacts with leading advertising agencies to join the league of signage players in the region,” says Naresh Jain, proprietor, Help Card Desk Co.
The company’s client list predominantly consists of outstanding advertising agencies, namely, Rediffusion, HTA (Hindustan Advertising Agency), O&M, Inner Circle and many more. Apart from its dynamic role in ad agency segment, the company has been working with the region’s leading media giants like Star Anand and other popular companies across West Bengal. It is not only in Kolkata but also in other metros like New Delhi, the company has opened its marketing branches. “What we are planning at the moment is for a new four-colour machine soon in near future to increase our business volume,” mentions Naresh while taking about the future expansion plan of the company.