Riyaz Ahmed, chief operating officer at Spectrum Digital Printing Press, Dubai in conversation with Jalpa Shah, shares his views on how transparency with the clients can be the best way to regulate
the ups and downs of the industry.

Hailing from Mumbai and having a graphic arts background, Riyaz Ahmed, came to the shores of Dubai in 2003 for working in Prepress. Starting with the role of graphic designer in an ad agency, he moved on to become art-director for a fashion magazine and then graphic- software specialist, where he offered training to corporates and publishing houses.
Ahmed holds a degree of Bachelor in Accountancy, and a Diploma in Computer Arts. Currently he is pursuing Masters in Business Administration. He says, “I started my career as a specialist in graphic software. My job was to offer training and tips and tricks to corporate houses, advertising agencies and publishing houses. Then I worked as an art director for a fashion magazine. When I came to Dubai in 2003 to look for a job, my obvious choice was to find an employment in the same industry. My first job in Dubai was of a graphic designer for an ad agency, which was purely a need base decision. But my interest developed and turning point in my life came, when I started my journey as production manager in Spectrum,  the most memorable moment in my career.”
Talking about Spectrum he says, “The original concept of Spectrum was born in 2005 by Marcus Doo, who at the time was working for ITP Publishing Group.  Doo had the idea of introducing digital printing into the region on a larger scale. However the business was brought by Ramzi Razian who owned Mercury Grappix and since then the business has grown sufficiently over the years to what it is today. Spectrum is driven to be the leader in digital print solutions within the region. It started with only 7 key people, some of whom I am pleased to say are still with us today, growing to becoming a group of 72 employees. At Spectrum Dubai ‘we love to print and we do it well’,  specialising in variable and fixed image digital printing. We understand the businesses world, and pride ourselves on delivering top quality printing that gives the customer exactly what they need. We are all about the quality of the end product; our state-of-the-art digital print presses guarantee precision, high resolution and quality finishing, giving your product the professional look and feel.”
Expressing his views on changes in printing industry and challenges in the current times Ahmed explains: “There is a big shift of focus from offset to digital printing.  For example short run jobs, personalized and variable data jobs is the need of the hour. You see large printing houses in UAE have now started venturing into and taking interest in the digital market, commissioning digital presses for short run and variable jobs. The main  challenge in the industry these days are the price wars. I have seen printers who are ready to undertake jobs below the cost. It is a completely unhealthy approach for the businesses.”

● Spectrum was born in 2005, to expand the reach of digital print
● The company employs 72 people, growing from a mere 7 employees
● Spectrum has won 5 awards at this year’s DIPA - 3 Gold and 2 Silver awards

Riyaz explains how printing industry in UAE differs from other regions by saying, “The dynamics and the size of the market is the biggest difference in  the region. For example printing photo books is a very big and developed market in India but in GCC its still at the infancy stage.”
He considers the role of employees as major key to success of business. “We have been very lucky and fortunate that we have the least staff turnover. Just to give an example we had only a couple of resignations in last 5 years. Compensation to our employees is the best offered in the market. Salaries are more than par with benefits as per UAE law. We recently won 5 awards at DIPA with 3 gold and 2 silver. We were also nominated last year for The Digital Printer Award (London), the only international company to be so selected. Quality, speed, efficiency, and our staff - these are our biggest strengths which makes us offer excellent customer services. And this is the key to success of any type of business. We were quite lucky and may be one of few printing companies to do well in recession because of our strengths.”  
Ahmed sees the market trends in the region with less demand and more supply, but he feels that the regional market is very optimistic and will cater all sectors in near time due to Dubai winning the EXPO 2020. “Of course there is excess supply over demand.  Since the number of presses in the region has increased, it has created a situation of excess supply over demand. And that is why there is unhealthy competition of price wars. Also, there is still lack of professional people in printing industry. However, still there are few good quality print houses and the market looks very optimistic with the World EXPO to be hosted by Dubai in 2020.”
Spectrum currently focuses on the local market, but do have few clients from Europe, US & North Africa market. Five years down the line Ahmed foresees Spectrum as a leading  printing press with digitalization. “We look to dominate and lead the digital printing market in the GCC. We have already expanded by taking a new facility in DSO which will double our production capacity and finishing capabilities.”
Signing off, he advices printers to focus on customer service and to be transparent with the clients which  can be the best way to regulate the ups and downs of the industry.