“Our continued investment in the EFI
Reggiani digital printing technology has allowed us to remain
competitive through innovation and high value-addition.”
Mr. Ahmed Jehangir, Executive
Director, Nishat Mills.
tell us about the strategy behind the success of Nishat and how
Nishat evolved as a leading producer in Pakistan over the years?
Strategy and evolution of Nishat Mills have always been to
balance value-added textiles with the intermediate goods. The
technological improvements in spinning and weaving do not
override investment at Nishat. It is the constant re-investment
in the whole chain that does the trick.
The value-added business has always been our focus where it
has always been balanced with the intermediate goods of spinning
and weaving. When I say value added it is basically yarn dyeing,
home textiles designs and the direct retail business.
At Nishat, we take our work very seriously. Either we do
things the right way, or we do not do them at all. For example,
we do not manufacture towels and bath products and they are not
in our portfolio. However, we would provide a complete range
including these products if required by our customers by making
alliances with other players and local suppliers/manufacturers.
When it comes to the marketing strategy Nishat is different
from others, as we are not looking for volumes only, despite the
fact that we are already a 80-100 million dollar export
division, we believe in high value as the high quality can
demand the high prices. That’s why in the field of fashion and
home textiles we ventured into digital printing before others.
We seek out demanding and higher brands as partners, where we
can stand apart from our competitors, hence our extensive
investments including in the digital printing. In tandem with
our long-term global partners, we strive to produce the best
possible products as per the ever-increasing quality demands in
the high-end markets where our customers operate.
We have remained abreast of the coming trends and stayed
ahead of others through our research and development. There is
no more money to be made by copying. That is why our investments
in digital printing allow us to materialize our creations in
close collaboration with our customers.
The digital printing allows us to do shorter runs which could
be a little more expensive, but if we are able to do that, the
better brands are always willing to take you as a supplier.
How did you make the decision to go for EFI Reggiani
digital printing technology?
When we bought our first EFI Reggiani machine in 2012 the
technology had not matured and I believe it is still evolving to
the benefit of the customers. For the last six to seven years we
have continuously invested in the latest digital technology and
today we have the largest digital printing capacity 5 million
metres for fashion. Our fifth EFI Reggiani machine has just been
I must say that the technology is now more stable and
provides us with the flexibility of making shorter runs and
provides a shorter turnaround time with more precise,
captivating and exclusive designs.
We need both wider and narrow width machines for both home
textiles and the retail fashion business in which Nishat is one
of the pioneers in the country.
What are some of the challenges in this field?
This is all new to us and we had to upgrade our human
resource almost completely. Around 80%of the people who had been
working in printing with us for decades had become obsolete as
the skills set changed completely.
At Nishat, there is constant training learning that takes
place starting with our top production team including myself,
Hafizur Rehman Siddiqui and Faisal Hafeez and then to our entire
We had great difficulty hiring the qualified personnel for
the job from the pool of new graduates technical institutes and
universities. What they had learned during their technical
education has little relevance to the new and evolving digital
So many companies who have invested in the digital printing
technology are not utilising their machines to their fullest
capacity to justify this investment. They are producing simple
designs that can be easily done on the flatbed or conventional
rotary printing machines.
We really need to bridge these gaps and very fast through
webinars and YouTube videos of professionals and companies such
as EFI Reggiani, where they can learn and gain practical
knowledge. They should make technology centers, where the
students and professors can interact with foreign technical
teams to stay abreast of the new technology.
Tell us about the local digital printing market?
In term of total fabric printing sector, digital printing is
a major part at Nishat. We print about 20 million metres per
year. It is about 5 million meters of fashion on digital and 15
million on rotary and other dyeing applications. We are printing
more than four hundred thousand meters per month digitally only
for Nishat Linen, and more than 750,000 meters per month
combined for digital home textiles, fashion and kitchen wear
We originally planned for a four storey set up with 32
machines and then we realized that the technology is not yet
mature and therefore postponed the investment. Today, we are
gradually increasing our investments in digital printing
machines, according to the demands of the market.
How do you foresee the future of digital printing?
In my opinion eventually, all printing will be shifted to
digital printing. The other technologies will become obsolete,
due to the fact that there is no more investment in the research
and development in the conventional technologies.
We went out of the commodity business a long time ago and our
home textile business is now at this high level, whereas our
products keep changing for the better and our profitability has
improved substantially. It is due to the high added value, that
we have been able to market our products successfully.
We undertake massive investments in Research and Development
and our product development team is now three times the size of
any other competitors. Similarly, our CAD CAM department is now
twice the size after our recent foray into the digital printing
We also provide designing services to our retail business,
Nishat Linen, and our design team offers more than twenty to
thirty designs every month.
Our customers come up with the concept and then we
collaborate with our design teams to create the designs
according to the requirements. With complete trust in us, they
do not dictate us in the development of the products. It is a
mutually reciprocal and beneficial partnership.
In this context, we are not alone who are doing this service.
Other good companies, who are also our competitors are doing it
at different levels because they are also collaborating with
their customers. That’s the way Turkey and Portugal developed
What were the factors you considered when opting for
EFI Reggiani digital Printing machines?
We have a long-term relationship with EFI Reggiani as in the
past we bought conventional rotary printing machines. We have
confidence in Reggiani brand because their habit of over testing
their machines until the results are upto the standards. This is
also done by others, but in my opinion, EFI Reggiani is doing it
the most diligently and thoroughly for the benefit of its
The digital printing technology was first used in narrow
widths and related applications, but today the leading
manufacturers are also using it for wider width applications
such as home textiles. Home textiles has become a commodity
business and our exclusive designs give us an edge over
commodity home textile exports.
I would like to attribute our great success to our dedicated
and competent team and the higher management. For example, our
management team including Mr. Siddiqui and Faisal Hafeez first
learned to use this new technology themselves before imparting
this highly technical know-how to the entire production team.
Nishat Mills are the pioneers of digital printing in
Pakistan. Now we have digital technology in reactive, pigment
narrow and wider width to offer the widest range of high quality
digital printing to our discerning customers.
Technologically, we have to make many sacrifices in order to
get the product right. For example, we may need to reduce our
speed which may in turn increase the ink density and its cost.
We shall still make money because the high quality of printing
always gets a better price.
By printing more than 5 million meters digitally we are
saving 20 to 30 percent on water as compared with conventional
printing, while obtaining much better results in terms of
quality. That is why digital printing is becoming increasingly
important every year due to the extraordinary savings plus
higher quality. Washing and post finishing are the main
limitations in the way of conservation of water, a most valuable
resource. I believe digital printing will eventually replace
conventional printing in the foreseeable future.