Pune’s Ugar Labels posts solid growth in the past two years

Vikram Printers’ packaging division for labels and shrink sleeves

L to R: Mandar Ugar and Abhijit Ugar, directors at Ugar Labels Photo: Ugar Labels
L to R: Mandar Ugar and Abhijit Ugar, directors at Ugar Labels Photo: Ugar Labels

Pune-based Ugar Labels, a division of commercial print firm Vikram Printers, has achieved spectacular growth in its business since its inception in mid-2020. Ugar Labels prints self-adhesive labels and shrink sleeves mainly for customers in the food and beverages industry. It produces these for the liquor, cosmetics, healthcare, agrochemicals, and automotive product segments. 

Through Vikram Printers, we have been in the book and commercial print segment for decades, and I am the second generation in the business. The commercial print segment was on a structural decline even before the Covid-19 pandemic. The idea to venture into label printing was to make sure we continue to grow as a business. We decided to get into label printing in 2019 and booked a label press then. The operations were supposed to kick off at Ugar Labels in early 2020. But due to the Covid outbreak and the lockdown delays, we started in the middle of 2020. We have seen robust growth in the past two years with nearly 150 customers. We are extremely satisfied with the way Ugar Labels is growing,” says Abhijit Ugar, director of Ugar Labels. 

The UltraFlex UFO flexo press at Ugar Labels Photo: Ugar Labels
The UltraFlex UFO flexo press at Ugar Labels.     Photo: Ugar Labels

Ugar Labels operates an 8-color UltraFlex UFO narrow web flexo label press supplied by Noida-based UV Graphics. The press has a width of 450 mm. The company has all the ancillary equipment such as plate mounter, shrink sleeve cutting, gluing and rewinding machine, and die-cutting, foiling, and sheeting machines. Ugar recently installed an inspection system by Deco Systems. The plant itself is in the Parvati Industrial Estate on the Pune-Satara Road. 

A great learning curve

Ugar says that running the label printing business has been a great learning curve for someone who comes from a commercial print background. The beginning was tough, but the journey so far has been exciting, he adds. 

The journey of the last two years has been very exciting. There is nothing common between commercial printing and label printing, except for maybe just the word ‘printing.’ You need a different mindset and approach for these two segments. For us, the initial few months were just dedicated to learning as we were making mistakes and learning from them. We stabilized the business in six to eight months. Ugar Labels now processes a variety of work, of which around 10-15% are long-run labels, and the rest are short-run jobs. By short run, I mean less than 10,000 labels. We are producing several shrink sleeve label jobs. The split between labels and shrink sleeves printing is 50:50,” Ugar says. 

Eyeing further growth and investment

Ugar Labels is now looking at entering into new areas of label printing. It is also planning to move to a new facility where it will establish a pouch-making division.

In label printing, we are looking at acquiring customers in the pharmaceutical industry since we now have an inspection system. That would be a completely new area for us. We are excited about that. We have bought a parcel of land where we will build a new facility by 2024. Once the new unit is ready, we will then look at setting up a pouch-making division. We are very bullish about the medium and long-term growth prospects in the label industry and the Indian packaging industry as a whole,” Ugar concludes.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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