Hyper-competition restricts market growth – Debashish Sarkar

Classic Image Offset continues focus on liquor labels

Debashish Sarkar
Debashish Sarkar, director of Classic Image Offset inside his plant in Kolkata. Photo PSA

The label market in India has seen a lot of activity over the last few years particularly in the mid to high-end segment. Noticeable trends in the market indicate that a lot of printers are opting for bigger and more automated flexo label presses and starting new lines or diversifying into some other businesses.However, there are a few label printers who are resisting this urge to opt for bigger presses and carrying on with what they do best – consolidating their position in the market and trying to maintain the quality and service they are known for. One such printer is Classic Image Offset in Kolkata.

For the last 25 years, Classic Image Offset has been known to be a quality and innovative label printer. The highly respected Debashish Sarkar, director of Classic Image Offset is looked upon as a liquor label expert in Kolkata. Sarkar tells Packaging South Asia, “I have been associated with this industry for a long time and have seen the ups and downs of the industry. I let my work do all my publicity and marketing and I am fortunate enough to be associated with the best brands in the market.”

Classic Image Offset is a big supplier to big liquor companies such as United Breweries (UB Group) and Allied Blenders & Distillers (ABD Group) amongst others. Classic also produces wet glue labels and is a supplier to various FMCG companies with pharma and cosmetics companies also contributing to the company turnover.

Classic was the first in Kolkata to have installed a Gallus label press. Sarkar has several EM 280s from Gallus installed at its unit. He also has several Heidelberg GTO sheetfed offset presses as well as a SM 52 sheetfed offset press. Sarkar says, “It is very important to understand and meet the varying demands of our customers. To remain competitive and ahead of the curve, we are both in flexo as well as in sheetfed. This has helped us in moving ahead with our plans to offer and satisfy the customer with whatever needs he may have.”

However, Sarkar is not very happy with the current level of growth of the Kolkata market. “The market has remained static more or less for the last few years. Although, as a printer I have had to invest and re-invest in equipment and machinery again and again, the investment is hardly helping me reach the next level. Label
equipment suppliers are quoting high growth figures but as a label printer that can hardly be seen. It is very difficult for a printer like me to keep on investing in capital equipment unless the market improves in the upcoming future.”

At the moment, Classic will continue to focus on the liquor label market Sarkar says. “My job is to be the very best in whatever we do. It is not easy to diversify or move to other lines at the moment. I have been attending to the needs of the liquor industry for so many years and it is still tough to meet the varying demands of my customers. I am supplying to various states in the country but there is too much competition at the moment and some of the printers are even willing to absorb losses to get orders. Such hyper-competition is restricting the growth of the market and in the long-term will be disastrous for the entire industry. However, I remain committed to the needs and demands of my customers and will do my best to help them and us remain profitable,” Sarkar concludes.

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