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Shree Rama Newsprint: Equipping Itself for the Future

As a strategic move, Shree Rama Newsprint Limited has ventured into packaging grades by manufacturing kraft paper in the range of 42-100 GSM. The company will revamp PM 2 including installation of film sizer for high BF Kraft paper.
Mr. Siddharth Chowdhary, Whole-Time Director, Shree Rama Newsprint Limited

In an exclusive interview given to Paper Mart, Mr. Siddharth Chowdhary, Whole-Time Director, Shree Rama Newsprint Limited, talks about the business journey of his company, recent expansion, future plans and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the company.

Excerpts:

Paper Mart: Could you tell us a little bit about the business journey of your company?

Siddharth Chowdhary: We acquired the company from West Coast Group in May, 2015 with a view to turn it around. The company is one of the largest producers of recycled paper-based writing and printing paper and newsprint in the country, and its capacity is 1.32 lakhs TPA. The declining newsprint offtake by the print medium due to the dumping of imported newsprint gave us an opportunity to shift to quality production of writing and printing paper. We have been manufacturing writing and printing paper since October 2019. We have successfully exported 40% of our production till date. We aim to be a leading player in the western part of India in writing & printing paper segment. In the next quarter we will launch A4 size paper. The lockdown from March 25, 2020, due to COVID-19 has presented different types of challenges. We, therefore, chalked out a new strategy and successfully produced Kraft paper in the wide range of 42-100 GSM and thus expanded our product basket.

“We have been manufacturing writing & printing paper since October 2019. We have successfully exported 40% of our production till date. We aim to be a leading player in the western part of India in writing & printing paper segment. In the next quarter we will launch A4 size paper.”

PM: You have manufactured Kraft paper for the first time in your mill. What will be your marketing strategy for this paper? Which markets will you be covering?

SC: We will be revamping some of the facilities to make value-added products in this segment. Also, we will focus on the export market.

PM: Have you gone for any expansion or technological enhancement since the acquisition?

SC: After the takeover of the company from West Coast Group in May, 2015, we started revamping our PM1 production facility. The machine has been erected, and we are in the process of re-commissioning it by July 2020. The revamp is being done by various reputed machinery suppliers including Voith, Valmet, ABB, Siemens, DNB, Globe and Saloni. We have upgraded our deinking plants with state-of-the-art equipment.

SRNL team with the first Kraft Paper Reel produced from Paper Machine 2; Machine deckle size of 6.3 metres.

PM: Do you have any future plans for investment, capacity expansion and/or product development?

SC: We will revamp PM 2 including installation of film sizer for high BF Kraft paper. This is our investment plan for this financial year.

PM: Could you tell us about your corporate vision for Shree Rama Newsprint?

SC: Our vision is to make Shree Rama Newsprint the most efficient recycled paper-based paper mill in the western part of the country and a major player in the exports market, as the plant is situated just 25 kms from Hazira port. This gives us an advantage over other inland mills that are far from the port. Our main goal is to earn 50 percent of our revenue from exports, constituting all our product lines.

PM: What has been the impact of the lockdown on your business? What steps are you taking to face the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?

“After the takeover of the company from West Coast Group in May, 2015, we started revamping our PM1 production facility. The machine has been erected, and we are in the process of re-commissioning it by July 2020.”

SC: We have not been impacted as far as our internal operations are concerned, as labor has been retained. We have given them free housing and other facilities. Sales has been affected owing to a sharp decline in paper consumption; and that’s because offices and schools have been closed down. Work on PM1 has been affected, as the suppliers were not in a position to reach the plant due to travel restrictions in Europe, China and India. This has led to a delay in the commissioning of the machine after the upgrade. Having said that, we do not operate in isolation; our business has been affected as well. The normalization of the entire trade and industry will depend on how quickly the pandemic is overcome or brought under control. The situation will normalize only when all industries revert to normalcy. Paper consumption is not confined to a specific industry; all kinds of industries use paper; and so, the prospects of the paper industry will improve only when the entire economy revives.

Paper Machine 1 with deckle size of 5.3 metres

PM: What kind of market trends do you foresee for the initial couple of quarters post normalcy and in the next FY?

”SRNL will ultimately produce approximately 18,000 tons of various grades of paper per month. Our exports will grow 100% compared to the last financial year.”

SC: Much will depend on the resolution of the COVID -19 problem. It will be difficult to predict the same. We hope normalcy is restored at the earliest, without any further loss of life and disruption in trade and industry. Prices of raw materials have shot up drastically, as collection of waste paper is very poor or negligible in foreign countries – and in India as well – due to the lockdown. Availability of containers also poses a huge challenge for suppliers who ship waste paper from Europe and the USA.

PM: Do you think Indian manufacturers will get bigger opportunities post COVID-19? Can India become a global manufacturing hub?

SC: We have no doubt that India has a bigger role to play in the future, given our strategic location, young population and business-friendly policies. We will emerge stronger to lead the world. Our country is going to benefit from the post-COVID-19 scenario, as we see shifting of manufacturing facilities from abroad. India will surely become a strong industrial force.