His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Bin Hassan Al Shaikh’s perspective on print and packaging carry the weight of an impressive academic as well as commercial background. Dubai- based Modern Printing Press’s managing director graduated with a political science degree in the UAE before completing a master’s then a doctorate in economics in the UK.
In the meantime, he has played an increasingly prominent role in his family’s businesses, including companies in real estate and medical supplies as well as printing and converting. And, alongside his academic and business activities, he has held board positions for many of Dubai’s leading public and private entities. So it could be a grounds for some rethinking by industry figures that Dr Al Shaikh is, to some extent, pessimistic about the long-term prospects of packaging as well as print. But to prepare for what could be a challenging future, he is adopting an approach of cross selling and specialisation, he told Packaging MEA.
- What’s your main focus with regards to packaging?
We are not in competitive packaging … We are not looking for a price war, because if you are working for just 1 or 2% margin you are actually losing because your inflation is higher than that percentage.
On the other hand we are working on two kinds of packaging. One is the high-end carton-based packaging, where we deliver quality, time, and service apart from the product itself. The other kind of packaging we do for clients only who are looking for service and quality. So our intention is not to fight on prices but to give service and quality. We are not looking at volumes but quality.
- Has the shift to online media affected your market?
During the last 15 years we have seen a good percentage of shifts to online digital and digital print from commercial print. This will continue. Will it close the printing press? I would say yes and no. I think in the next 15-20 years we will not see major printing presses around the world. I mean presses that employ more than 1,000 employees will cease to exist. I doubt if we can see multi-production facilities 15 years from now. I believe com- mercial presses with a maximum of 40-60 employees would be called big presses with the major- ity of them depending on digital printing. That’s how I see the future of commercial presses. Growth of print for packag- ing would continue for some time and then there would be a decline for a printed material. With the rise of virtual supermarkets and internet of things’, these modes of purchasing have an option of delivering the product in a printed packaging for $1 or in a plain packaging for $0.95. Many will choose the economical option.
Modern Printing Press has been doing things 10-15 years back that others have started to do now. First of all, we have
started to service the client in a different way. We have started cross selling what other products we can supply to our customers.
I believe that majority of the printers will vanish and those people who specialise will stay and that’s what we are banking on. We are also banking on opportunities and technology.
- Do you see packaging as growing in the UAE?
Development in Dubai attracts two kinds of people. Due to uncertainty in the region, people come to the UAE as investors. Part of that group is into repackaging like tea packaging or cosmetics.
This helps the packaging industry and adds to its growth. The second category is tourists, rising from 6-7 million in 2005 to more than 20 million expected by 2020. This is a floating population, which demands disposable packaging. This category adds a higher ratio in growth of packaging.
- Do you expect printing onto products to take off?
We need to divide product sectors in this matter. If today you take a pouch, the manufacturer needs a machine to make the pouch and a machine for the caps and closures. So is it cost effective for the quantity they run?
Secondly, is the quality sufficient enough to go online right now? So for some products this is viable and for some it might not be. For some it may be more expensive to do the whole range. For example if a manufacturer manufactures five different products, he may need five different types of these machines to produce in-house.