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Raja Kumar Gandhi, Managing Director of Hexxa Flexible Packaging in conversation with Venkat Raghavan, shares his packaging industry experience and the current market trends going on in the industry.

Born in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Raja Gandhi went to school at The Indian High School, Dubai. After finishing his schooling, he went to India and completed his Bachelors of Commerce degree from Bombay University in 1992. He went to the USA for his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, specializing in Finance and Marketing from the Ohio Northern University in 1994. Subsequently. In 1995 he pursued his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Denver, Colorado. During those days the textile business as well as the trading business was doing well in general. In 1996, he ventured into textile trading focusing mainly on the fabric market locally and overseas for his company New Kandor Trading.

Talking about his career, Gandhi commented, “I wanted to diversify from the textile business and wanted to focus into the Food and Packaging industry. In 2005, I met Mr. C.H. Negandhi who is a veteran in the packaging sector and with his guidance I started Hexxa Flexible Packaging Company in Jebel Ali Free Zone with 10 employees. After a few years, with the growing demand in the packaging business and adding new machinery for providing better quality, it was time to move to a bigger area. In 2010 we moved to a 30,000 square feet purpose built factory in Ras Al Khaimah. Today, we are more than 70 employees with ISO 22000: 2005 quality certification. We do multi-layer laminates, pouches, stand-up zip lock bags, PVC shrink labels, and many more products. However, we specialize in PVC shrink labels and stand-up zip lock bags. Mr Gandhi added that his main focus is to manage the expectations of his clients making sure he provides them with better quality and excellent service.

HIGHLIGHTS
● Hexxa Flexible Packaging has received ISO 22000-2005 certification and planning for BRC certification
● They started with 10 employees and now have more than 70 employees

Talking about the past and future of the industry, he added, “I have not seen any big revolutionary change in the Gravure industry for the last ten years. The print quality of roto-gravure was and still remains the best. In the future, I strongly believe that Flexo printing has a good scope and I see most of the innovations happening in the Flexo industry. Earlier people could easily identify the difference in the quality of printing from Gravure to Flexo. However, with the innovations over the years, you cannot say whether a film has been printed on Gravure or Flexo with the naked eye.” 

Talking about the print quality, he added, “Since it is so easy to set up business in the UAE, many companies prefer to start their business here and that is one of the reasons we have so many printing and packaging companies. Also, a fast growing FMCG sector with many regional and multinational companies are based here. We see a lot of talented professionals from all across the world make the UAE their home. In the UAE we have the best companies for making the gravure cylinders and flexo Plates. The industry players are ready to invest in new machinery and advanced technology for the pre-press and printing industry which reflects the superior print quality in the UAE.  

He further added about the company growth and future plans, “Our Company saw good growth over the years, year-on-year since inception except for 2015. 2014 was our record year with substantial increase in revenues. However in 2015, we saw a dip of around 15% where the overall business was affected due to the general market conditions. Even during the global recession period of 2008-2009 our company and saw some growth. We did not foresee the dip in 2015 coming. So the following year, we shifted our focus to a strategic plan to travel to selected countries in Africa to prospect new clients and get new orders to maintain our profitability. Our company does 80% of business in the local market and 20% in overseas. So we thought it was a good opportunity to travel and solicit business through exports.

Our Company is headed by Mr. Nandkumar Sansare who has more than 25 years of experience in the Printing and Packaging industry. With his expertise and technical supervision and with the support of our Sales team, we are able to sustain and we keep growing year on year. In the next few months, we will be starting construction of a new factory and a new warehouse. After completion of this factory, we plan to go for BRC certification which would allow us to explore opportunities in the European market. If everything goes well then we will be catering equal percentage of the business to both domestic and overseas markets. We want to grow only in the packaging industry and that is why we recently invested in a new MPS flexo press. The MPS 10 colour state-of-the-art flexo printing machine is the first MPS machine in the GCC. We plan to do short run printing jobs in the Flexo press and long run jobs in Gravure.”

Talking about company benefits and credit periods Gandhi said “We normally offer credit period of around 60 to 90 days but it is going beyond that now-a-days. With the changing trends, the market today has become a buyers’ market. I urge that the industry should have an association which should act as a governing body which will create some relief for all the players in the market. Retaining professional employees was not a difficult task for us as we try and see that the employees in our company are well looked after. There are employees who have been with us from the day one. However, there is no binding contract with them which could be a concern. We follow all the guidelines benefitting our employees as per the rules and regulations of the country.”

Signing off, he advices, looking at the volatility and market sentiments “I urge everyone to be prudent, invest wisely, and cautiously manage the business by doing proper due diligence of customers and watching the changing trends in the economy and business. This is the mantra for sustainability during these uncertain times”