The cash-strapped Cuddalore Cooperative Printing Press has hit upon the idea of taking to seasonal businesses, besides continuing with its core strength — making a turn around in its financial performance.
The printing press sources told The-Hindu that it was for the first time in Tamil Nadu that a co-operative printing press had embarked upon such a venture. They said that owing to bloated staff strength and lack of orders, the printing press fell into bad days about three years ago.
But after the change of management and the prudent economic measures taken, the press was set on the recovery path. The present dispensation has thought it fit to take up seasonal businesses to augment its revenue and one such avenue is to sell firecrackers.
The sources said that after obtaining special permission from the government, the press staff started the firecrackers business last year. With the strong backing of the State Co-operative Consumer Federation it could procure the firecrackers on credit basis from the companies at Sivakasi.
Since it was a late entrant in the business (when compared with other private traders) last year, it could get only a nominal consignment of firecrackers, amounting to Rs. 6 lakh. But owing to the trading skills of the staff, the entire stock was sold out within days.
The sources said that while taking up the business, the staff was governed by the motto that it must be rendered as a public service and that the credibility of the co-operative sector must be safeguarded.
These conditions were eminently met in the first year of the firecrackers sales too. Following popular demand, the printing press was encouraged to set up the firecrackers shop for the second year.
However, the sources said that even though the press had placed order for Rs. 25 lakh of firecrackers, the companies could supply only Rs. 9 lakh worth of goods. The reason for such a rationing approach was that after the repeated fire incidents in the firecrackers-manufacturing units, the output took a beating.
The Sivakasi companies reportedly returned Rs. 20 crore received as advance as they could not meet the orders owing to slump in production. The sources further said that the prime attraction with the printing press was that it was offering competitive prices for the firecrackers.
It had adopted a novel display of numbering each item for easy identification by even novices and illiterates. What was unique about the sale was that computerised billing system was adopted for the purpose. The quoted prices were inclusive of 14.5 per cent of value added tax.
When contacted, Special Officer of the press R. Devakumaran told this correspondent that the proceeds from the business would be utilised for raising a building on the printing press campus to set up 24-hour medical shop and a stationary shop.