“Our Zeal To Innovate And Excel – Key Elements For Our Market Leadership Position”

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Shailesh Wani, MD, Stovec Industries Ltd.

Stovec Industries Ltd is today the global market leader in rotary screen printing, offering complete printing solutions to the textile industry. The company’s core strength lies in innovation, product development, driven by its experienced talented pool of employees. In an exclusive interview with Reena  Mital, Shailesh Wani, Managing Director, Stovec Industries Ltd., talks at length about the company’s achievements, strategies and future plans.

How is the market for Stovec?
We are witnessing strong growth over the last 4-5 years, 30% CAGR and the future growth seems buoyant. Stovec has two business segments – Consumables and Capital goods. Capital goods includes rotary printing machines, laser engraving machines and digital printers. And consumables include rotary textile screens, graphic screens, digital inks. In rotary screens, we are the market leaders globally. What differentiates us from others apart from having  huge capital and strong experience is the drive for innovation. If you have ideas, you have the most essential asset you need to grow in the market even at hard times and this has helped us achieve a leadership position in the market. For instance, we have developed very specialised Nova screens, with mesh size of 135, 165, 195. These are very fine mesh, which are manufactured in India, with an intention of localised support to our valued customers. This requires a very different technology and set-up which is the first of its kind in India.

Stovec is also the competence centre in India for SPGPrints for developments in the rotary printing machines. We expect to continue with the growth trends in tandem with textile printing sector both in India, and globally.

For Stovec, besides India, which are the other important markets?
We have registered good growth in China, Bangladesh, Turkey. We see a lot of market potential in South America, in the CIS countries – Russia, Uzbekistan and we expect these markets to grow at a fast pace.

How did you achieve a CAGR of 30%?
We innovated. We developed several new products to our portfolio. For Stovec, the developments we did in our capital business are paying off. Till early 2015, we had mechanical printing machines, which was the industrial demand at that  time. However, with our strong market intelligence and anticipating growing market needs, we realised that the market will eventually pace towards semi-automatic and automatic printing machines, and we catered to this demand by designing and developing semi-automatic machines (RD8 ID), in 2015.  Subsequently in 2017, we launched a new generation automatic rotary screen printing machine Pegasus Evo.  Both these products are very well received by the market globally and the quality is much appreciated by our customers. This is reflected in the strong market growth that Stovec has experienced in the last 3-4 years.

Within the SPGPrints group, Stovec is the manufacturing hub to meet demands of its global customers.

Today we sell not just in India, but in most of the textile manufacturing countries including Bangladesh, China, Brazil, Mexico.

So, was this SPGPrints technology? Or did you develop it all in-house?
The base technology of rotary printing machines is from our parent company SPGPrints, The Netherlands, which we further developed with the support from the Dutch engineering team. . We localised the manufacturing to a large extent, sourcing components and other inputs from India. So we offer the best of quality at a very competitive price.

Now, you’ve developed a competence centre, you enjoy a leadership position in the market. How did you accomplish this?
Around 60-65% of our revenue in Capital comes from the machines we developed in the last three years. If we had remained a manufacturer of mechanical rotary printing machines, I’m sure by now we would’ve been wiped out. So, I would say that understanding the market trends, realising that market is changing and acting in a timely manner have led to the current success.

Behind this understanding is our company culture. Four years ago, we started an initiative – Lakshya Programme for effective employee engagement. Under this programme, different departments took up several small projects. And this resulted in a lot of information gathering, knowledge creation, innovation, design and product development and cost reduction. The employees were at the centre of this programme, their contributions were congruously recognised by creating an environment where our ideas could connect. This initiative is at the core of Stovec’s success.

Very few Indian textile engineering companies have achieved the success that you have. What according to you prevents the Indian TEI from developing their brand image, given that there is a large pool of engineering talent in the country, and a huge captive market in India and in the region?
I think the motivation to innovate is critical for the success. This is what Indian textile engineering industry  would have to focus more in the coming years.

In our case, we had the basic technology from our parent company in Europe and we developed it further for the Indian market. Being a leader means taking full responsibility for market development. This requires confidence, but our confidence is built on the best expertise in the business we have gained over past four decades.  The customer considers us to be their reliable printing partner that leads the market into the future by providing best products and service. We have a team of 25 service engineers, which offer complete training and craftsmanship to customers

Rotary versus digital printing – your views?
If we look at our entire market, the major share is that of the rotary screen printing followed by flat-bed printing; and digital printing as of now will be in single-digit percentage. CAGR for digital printing may be phenomenal, but the share will continue to be much less than rotary. Rotary screen printing will continue to command the lion’s share of the market.

The two technologies will complement each other. These are two different markets. When you need a very competitive cost of manufacturing, large run lengths, you will go for rotary. When you have high fashion designs and prints, very short run lengths, and lot of export requirement, for sure digital printing will be the technology to opt for. Till now, the trend in India was that of small entrepreneurs setting up digital printing units. Now the trend is changing. Textile printing mills that already have rotary machines are also opting for digital printing.

Can digital printing be adapted to large runs too?
Yes. Our product PIKE does just that, it can print 3000-4000 metres every hour, the equivalent of a rotary printing machine. Globally, we have several installations, but the market for this is still nascent, because the investments are huge.

But costs are certainly coming down in digital printing. Ink costs are 30-40% lower than three years ago. Printing speeds have increased tremendously compared to five years ago. So, economic viability has improved significantly for this technology. This has resulted in several installations globally.

How does your technology address environmental sustainability?
Digital printing is the key to sustainability. In rotary printer too, we are continuously working to bring down energy consumption. But printing per se is a chemical intensive activity, and rotary printing does generate effluent. Whereas with digital printing, we use less water, less chemicals, and the effluent burden is much less.

Going forward, how do you see the trend emerging?
Our focus has been on conventional printing technologies in India. We have now a bigger role to play in digital printing with our printers and inks. We will further innovate and develop technologies and products that are suited to the Indian market.

What are your expectations from ITMA this time?
We will demonstrate our newly developed automatic rotary printing machines, along with our digital printing machines, and laser engravers, inks, screens – we will be a one-stop shop for all textile printing needs. We expect a large footfall from India & from across the world.

We expect visitors and enquiries for digital and rotary printing technologies from India, Bangladesh, China. We expect a very large number of European orders for digital printers at the show.

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