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India's enigmatic market a boon to Canadian printing company

When foreign companies try to tap into India's enormous potential as an emerging market, they often find themselves faced with an overwhelming enigma. As an old saying about the country goes, "For everything you say about India, the opposite is also true."

Ontario's Gandi Innovations is thriving as a result of this rule. In a niche market, they are selling their product at a price high above that of much of their competition, and thriving.

Gandi, which opened their Indian division six years ago, is a maker of specialized large-format inkjet printers with advanced digital technologies suitable for work on everything from paper to fabric. Growth in India was slight in the first two years of the company's operations there, but has reached highs of up to 20 per cent. Despite the recent downturn, current growth is around 15 per cent, he added.

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Gandi manufactures its products in Canada, importing its printers into India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, where it has had some 60 large customers. Its printers sell at prices upwards of $125,000 (U.S.) per piece.

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On the one hand, Gandi competes with Chinese firms that sell gear at a fraction of its price, and on the other hand, with giants such as US-based Hewlett Packard. Thankfully, technological innovations give it an edge, and the company has discovered that while their Indian customers are price conscious, they aren't willing to sacrifice quality.

"They are tech savvy," Manesh Shetty, Manager, Marketing and Sales, says of his customers. Initially, the firm had some doubts about how they would fare competing with cut-price competitors, but Mr. Shetty said Gandi's customers have been looking essentially at "more value for money" taking into account long-term investment.

When the company first entered India, much of the media now printed by Gandi's products was actually hand-painted. Customers have gradually evolved from cheap, clunky printing to high quality consciousness after a round of price wars that saw a shootout with Chinese competitors.

Gandi succeeds in the Indian market by banking on its innovations in the printing business, rather than its prices. Word-of-mouth references about the quality of the products have helped Gandi gain in the close-knit community of Indian printers who buy its equipment, says Mr. Shetty.

Earlier this year, the now 250-strong company was acquired by AGFA, the global photographic equipment company, in what was clearly a vote of confidence for its unique position in the global market for large-format printers.

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About the Author
Small Business Columnist

Narayanan Madhavan, a senior Indian journalist, columnist and editor, has more than 25 years of experience in journalism. He is currently Associate Editor running the business news pages of Hindustan Times, a leading Indian daily newspaper which is part of the capital city New Delhi's culture and growth. More

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