Recently Nobel laureate Amartya Sen eulogised the developments in Bihar as path breaking.
The World Bank ranked Patna as the best city in India to start a business in June 2009, second only to New Delhi.
What can be a better comparison for Patna with Delhi, which has taken over the mantle of being the printing capital of India?
When this correspondent visited Patna, a local supplier and dealer said: "The economy of Patna is led by the local service industry. The state capital of Bihar has the highest per capita gross district domestic product. The per capita income is equivalent to other metropolitan towns in India."
Things are changing drastically in Bihar and the positive change is for the better. "Business is looking up. Opportunities are vast. We are working diligently to develop the business further, but growth path is never as straight as it looks to be. We are trying to implement the best practises that are manageable," says Shailesh Kumar Singh who looks after marketing and business development at Patna Offset.
Winds of transformation
Patna Offset is tapping into the bullishness in the market. There is a demand for textbooks, thanks to the renewed focus on education by the state government plus agencies like UNICEF.
"Our Capex for investment is Rs 45-cr, which will be implemented over three phases. The expansion will equip Patna Offset to tackle the demands and produce quality textbooks and cope with commercial prints demand alike. We are the leading printer for textbooks for key organisations and government departments," says Shailesh Singh.
Speaking to PrintWeek India during the PrintPack show in Delhi in January 2011 Shailesh says, "We notched a turnover of Rs 9.5-cr in the financial year 2010-11 with our existing setup of 20,000 sq/ft. We have set a target of Rs 20-cr for current year which needs a new set-up as well as cutting edge technology."
What can be a better platform than PrintPack: "To hunt for indigenous machines that will bolster the growing print demand."
The firm is setting-up a new three-storey building which will be spread over 1,05,000 sq/ft area on a 2.5 acre new plot near the Patna by-pass road highway. "We are in the final phase. We have booked the following machines: a brand new thermal CTP from Kodak and a Komori Lithrone LS 440 fully loaded press," announces Shailesh Singh.
A modest growth path
Patna Offset has its origins as a commercial printing company in 1992. "We progressed and became a prominent publishing and printing house. Printing textbooks has become a speciality. In addition, we produce some qualitative commercial and corporate work too. We are aiming to leverage our strength and position" says Ram Naresh Singh, who is a proud father of four sons Vinay, Shailesh and Amit Kumar Singh.
Patna Offset caters to 38 districts in Bihar with 70% of the jobs being sourced from Patna – and the remaining 30% from other districts. The firm serves the Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan (SSA) work of states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa.
Today, the firm stands out tall among its competition in Eastern India. "We print 1-crore textbooks and almost a crore of other types of books which cater to government, semi-government and private entities," says Vinay Kumar Singh who heads the production and operations at Patna Offset.
"We also do some high quality commercial work for corporate and private clients that include catalogues, brochures and magazines. For these kind of jobs we print about 200-lakh impressions per year," informs Vinay Singh.
Accredited with ISO 9001:2000 certification, Patna Offset Press was established by Ram Naresh Singh. "Our past can be traced back to our first unit which was in the name of Balmiki Press. This press was set-up in 1958. We moved into the offset arena in 1981," says the senior Singh.
The firm will celebrate its twentieth anniversary with a slew of investment yet to be seen in Bihar.
"We are set to create history once again by becoming the only printer in Bihar to invest exclusively in brand-new offset machines along with a new thermal CTP among web machines," declares Shailesh Singh.
Growth is galloping: "Once the expansion plans are in place by end of the coming financial year of 2012, we will ensure that our clientele is served with best print quality and services in the industry," exults Singh.
The firm has an impressive clientele list that includes: UNICEF Bihar, the Bihar BSEB, IPRD Bihar, BSTPC, ICDS Bihar, SSA Bihar, Bihar Education Project Council and the Bihar Education Project (BEPC). BEPC also known as BEP represents the first major attempt in India to include a holistic approach to Education for All (EFA).
The project been able to garner multilateral funding (from UNICEF, Government of India and the Government of Bihar), "which augurs well for educational printing of textbooks for our firm," adds Amit Singh, youngest among the Singh brothers.
Estimates put Bihar with over 21 million children in the school going age. Plus another 18 million who are already attending schools. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2010 highlights a 96.6 % enrolment of children in the schools of Bihar.
With an increased outlay of Rs 10,000-cr on education budget plus expansion of schools have been backed by announcements from the Bihar government. This is about reading materials for class 1 to 8, posters and books on health and sanitation, guideline booklets, funding of free textbooks, workbooks, worksheets and essential teaching material.
"These developments are a healthy sign – and have caused a surge in educational printing demands that are expected to boost our operations to a new level in a way that couldn’t be visualised a decade ago," exults Shailesh Singh.
With all this progress, Patna Offset would be rechristened and rebranded in 2012. "We will increase our publishing print business by 25% – and add private publishers who are keen to print in this part of the world," says Shailesh Singh.
Shailesh Singh has big plans for 2013, "Our production capacity will be scaled to 4.5-cr textbooks. Commercial printing will be upscaled to 40-cr impressions per year. This would result in a Rs 30-cr turnover for the company."
Quite clearly, Patna Offset is taking advantage of a changing India and making a fortune from books.
"Once our three-phase plan is implemented, our production will shoot-up by 300% from the present," concludes Shailesh Singh.
|PATNA OFFSET FACTFILE |
Specialty Publishing and commercial printing
Location Patna – Three units of 22,000 sq/ft with addition of 1,05,000 sq/ft soon
Annual turnover Current Rs 9.5 and a target of Rs 15-cr
Equipment A new four-colour Komori Lithrone LS 440 fully loaded, a new Kodak Thermal CTP, one Komori Lithrone 426 and Adast - two by-colour and one single-colour offset printing machines. Three eight-colour high-speed four-colour both side web-offset and one two-colour both side printing machine with complete folding among other ancillary small machines. Desktop pre-press applications from Adobe, QuarkXpress, CorelDraw along with softwares like PackEdge, ColorTone and ArtPro
Management R N Singh, Vinay Kumar Singh, Shailesh Kumar Singh and Amit Kumar Singh
Accreditation ISO 9001:2000 certified company
Patna Offset is one of the top 500 print firms in India. This rating is from THE 500 list which is published by PrintWeek India and powered by Xerox India.
The deadline for sending entries for the third edition of PrintWeek India Awards is 25 June 2011.
Click here to download:
Entry Form for PrintWeek India Awards 2011