Stop the presses: Printers compete for a few orders

The industry struggles to survive as the number of orders shrink to 25 per cent.


Irfan Aligi August 29, 2011

KARACHI: The last ten days of Ramazan are usually the busiest for the printing industry. But this year their business has declined by about 75 per cent, because of the volatile law and order situation of the city.

According to details available with The Express Tribune, there are around 15,000 small and medium printing houses in Karachi. Most of them are situated in the older parts of the city.

But the proliferation of extortionists and the ongoing violence in the city has caused around 17,000 workers of printing houses to starve at a time when orders are at their peak.

Besides violence, unannounced long spells of power cuts is the second major factor causing losses.

According to Mehmood Hamid, the president of the All Pakistan Small Traders and Cottage Industries, printing houses have lost orders amounting to Rs6 billion.

“We obtained only 20 per cent orders as compared to last Ramazan,” he said. The loss of revenue in the last 23 days has crossed Rs6 billion to the printing industry and the overall revenue loss to all other businesses in the city amounts to Rs1.77 trillion, he said.

Around 10 million people across Pakistan are indirectly linked to the printing business.

They include paper merchants, the pasters, binders, wholesalers, retailers and many others.

Shahid, a printer in the Nazimabad printing market, told The Express Tribune that there is a competitive environment because there are fewer orders.

Those who have permanent orders are the toughest competitors as they often take orders with zero profit. “It is now a matter of survival,” he said.

Mumtaz, a text composer and wedding cards designer, said that the decline in orders of wedding cards has also hurt hundreds of designers who are directly dependent on orders received at the printing houses. Load shedding has worsened the situation.

“We have to spend considerable amount of money on UPS which also become useless when there is no power for long periods of time.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th,  2011.

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