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“Good Days Will Come Back but in Different Avenues of Niche Specialization”

Exclusive Interview with Amit Radia, CEO. Atlas Group

Atlas group is one of the major printing operations in Dubai since25 years ago. The company offers a diverse range of solutions in print and digital media. The group which boasts two divisions, Atlas Printing Press and Atlas Media Communications, specializes in Variable Personalized print, Amit Radia is Group’s CEO and the man at the helm of all the operations. He is a veteran in printing industry. To find out how he is dealing with Corona crisis and his plans for post Covid recovery we asked him few questions. Here are the answers:

As far as I understand Atlas group is offering diverse printing services including newspaper, magazine, digital printing and so on, how are you dealing with challenges of Coronavirus, the so called “new normal?”

Like most organizations, we have hit hard by the pandemic and although initially we were hoping to revert back to normal, it soon became apparent that it would not. We have now focused our growth on the e commerce platform and launched various portals catering for specific niche markets.

How do you see the printing industry situation in our region in general and in Dubai in particular?

Well, there is definitely an oversupply and most printers have rushed into packaging as a market that should grow. We have focused our energies more on the digital forefront and offering complete hybrid solutions to our customers.

However, there will be a clean up on the number of presses in the region and the weaker ones fall by the wayside.

Have you had to downsize?

Yes, we have downsized by 35% to contain costs.

In your opinion considering Covid-19 pandemic which still is wreaking havoc there are also opportunities for printers? Or good days are gone?

I believe the good days will come back but in different avenues of niche specialization.

It seems that the only printing segment that is still lucrative during the pandemic is packaging, have you made any investment lately, especially in package printing and label?

No, like I said, there is no point in jumping into an area which is already heavily subscribed and fighting purely on cost cutting.

Do you have any plan to diversify in other branches of printing industry? There are increasing demand for floor graphics and Coronavirus related signage. 

Our strength is digital, e-commerce and variable data and that is what we will focus on as it requires s working closely with our customers and adding value to their requirements.

You are also offering T-shirt printing, do you see lot of opportunity in textile and apparel printing?

That is purely a strategy to encompass various facets of print which add value but cannot sustain itself as a core profit center for us.

You have been a major print service provider for trans-promo, do you believe there is still market for this type of print jobs?

There certainly is potential in personalization and trans promo not only as print but also as a digital model.

What about direct mail? Is this still a good market?

Unfortunately, direct mail in the region is not viable due to the lack of a postal system as efficient as the US or Europe. Hence, we see limited potential.

You are a major supplier of Airline menus, this part of your business must have been hit hard, or not?

Everything connected with the airlines has been severely affected but one hopes that it will all be back by mid 2021 when airlines resume normal operations after the vaccinations are implemented.

Coronavirus accelerated many trends including implementing end to end digital workflow and automation, how automated your processes are at the moment and are you planning to invest more in automation?

We are fairly advanced in our automation of workflows due to some of our divisions such as the newspapers on demand and the variable data and we will continue to invest more into this 

How do you approach sustainability in your business?

We promote sustainability aggressively and also have all the necessary certifications to implement this.  Examples are reducing wastage, print on demand, using recycled paper as well as chemical or inks which are friendly to the environment.

Are you also exporting your printed products to other countries in the region?

Yes, we target the East African market and MENA region but due to the pandemic, the areas have not been performing very well.

Last but not least is it a good time to be a printer in UAE?

Lets put it this way…if you are invested already, one has to eke out a solution to sustain themselves. However, I would not go into setting up a brand new venture in this field as there are more viable options available to target the new economy and world.

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