Do you observe any new trends as far as signage design itself is concerned? For example, with the rise of media like at airports or metro rail stations, there is bound to be greater thrust on the aesthetics of the signage right?
Yes absolutely! But still, if you look at the airport space, like say in Bangalore, although many of the signage cabinets, especially those inside the airports, look different from the regular signage structures, they are essentially the same as they were about 20 years ago, when they were built. I don’t see much change there. Even globally, the basic engineering of the sign structure has remained the same over the years. In fact, India is not far behind when it comes to signage structure itself. The only difference is that signage structures in international markets are well regulated by the government, so they can withstand strong weather events. But that is not necessarily the case here in India.
Which are your focus areas? Also, what new business opportunities do you see emerging for the signage industry as a whole?
We have primarily focused upon infrastructure projects, including those at airports, metro rail networks and malls. In terms of new opportunities, the main focus, as far as we are concerned, is to expand the customer base within a segment. In India, almost every segment uses signage, so the business opportunities for a signage company are more in terms of scale, rather than tapping a new segment. For example, if we are catering to a certain number of airports today, it could be double that number in future. The opportunities do exist for all, it’s just a matter of choice as to what kind of customer base and scale one is looking at and the capability to service that.
What about electric charging (EV) points? Don’t they offer new opportunities for signage and branding?
I would say they are added opportunities rather than new, and additional sources of revenue. We are already working with a few automotive brands who have tied up with gas stations for charging points and soon there would be more number of EV points coming up in spaces like malls, hotels etc. But the technology still needs to evolve in terms of the amount of time taken to charge, the distance covered, etc, before EV charging points can become more widespread.
How did the recent price hike of raw materials affect business ?
It has affected the business very badly. Prices of materials like steel have doubled and so have of LED and Acrylic, so yes we did lose some businesses.
What in your view are the most critical challenges that this industry is facing today?
Pricing is the biggest challenge; it is not technology - today there is better machinery available and I don't see a huge challenge in manufacturing. But the prices are so challenging that it's very difficult to sustain the business for a long time.