S. Chand Group: Striving to be in every sphere of education
Himanshu Gupta, joint managing director – S. Chand Group needs no introduction. This dynamic personality of the publishing industry has brought a major turnaround not just at S. Chand but also in the Indian publishing industry. Here, he shares his vision for the company and the major trends in the education industry, in exclusive interview with ABP editors SK Khurana and Varsha Verma. Excerpts.
Journey so far…
“I joined the family business way back in the year 2000. My journey so far can be divided into three phases. The first phase was when I was working with my father till 2006, in which there was a lot of learning, training, knowledge gain and I even went into the field. In 2006, my father opted to retire and from 2006 to 2012 was my second phase, in which we streamlined a lot of things and got S. Chand moving on a fast track. The third phase is from 2012 where we tried to grow, not just organically but also inorganically. We are now looking at the education industry in total and not just publishing.
We have got private equity and also acquiring companies. Every phase has been a very interesting and challenging one, there have been a lot of ups and downs but with a great learning experience which continue even today,” shares Himanshu Gupta of S. Chand Group.
Elaborating more on his journey, he adds, “Of all these phases, the third phase has been more important to learn and a experiential phase for me and I have met a lot many new people not only of publishing industry but also from the financial sectors.”
Talking in numbers, Himanshu is quick to point out that S. Chand Group has grown from less than a $10 million company in 2006 to more than $100 million company today. “We have become the largest publishing group in the country,” he shares.
On asking about his vision, Himanshu replies, “We have a vision to take this company to a new level and we call it as Vision 2020, wherein S. Chand Group will become a knowledge power house in next five years and will be the largest non-infrastructure provider of products and services in the education sector. That’s why we have a new logo, which says S. Chand – A Knowledge Corporation. We want to focus ourselves in the secondary and tertiary sectors of the education industry, which means content and service provider. Our vision is to take S. Chand Group to a multi-fold education company where we would be focusing on two main areas – the first one being the core sector (print) and other being digital and allied services.”
Telling more about the print segment, Himanshu shares that they are on the acquisition spree and would acquire more companies in near future.
On education industry…
Himanshu feels that our new government has a focus on education with the requisite budget and willingness to give quality education to students’ community. “The education segment is bound to grow and become a $100 billion industry in India,” he adds.
“The higher education industry is also moving but not at the pace as of school segment. We also have a bigger book printing set-up as we feel that the school book segment is bound to grow. We may also look at the regional book segment, which has equally immense potential. The population of our country is growing and the industry will grow both in terms of volume and value as well,” he shares.
“In terms of value, the book industry is pegged at $2.1 billion industry and it is expected that in the next fivesix years, it would become a $4-5 billion industry and we wish to have a 10-15 percent share within the education sector specially in the print segment,” targets Himanshu.
“We can easily accomplish $400-500 million if we work properly in the print segment as I feel print is increasing in India because of the ease of affordability, infrastructure and other issues at ground level,” he adds optimistically.
On digital and beyond…
Digital is making inroads into the education industry and S. Chand Group is also fully gearing up to tap this growing segment. “We have recently acquired a minority share in a Hyderabad based company providing learning management systems, which is then offered in the form of tablets loaded with ready content. With opportunities like these, we plan to invest more money and time,” he adds.
Not only this, there are other sectors which have immense potentials. “Of these, Test Prep sector, online tutorials, online distance education being the key growth areas, in which we can enter through organic or inorganic ways,” he shares.
Entry into pre-schools… S. Chand Group has already opened four pre-schools – under the banner of Rise Kids and in the coming financial year, they are planning to have 25 such pre-schools.
S. Chand today…
In the print segment, S. Chand Group has produced 50 million books in the FY 2014-15, catering to 20 million students. They have 15,000 titles, 3,000 authors and 2,500 professionals under its wings. “We have consumed 20,000 tonnes of paper for book production this year,” shares Himanshu. “75 percent of our revenues come from school segment and 25 percent from higher education segment. In terms of print and non-print, 95 percent of the revenue comes from print and 5 percent from non-print but this would change to 75:25 in the next five years,” he adds.
“Our growth in the last three years has been three folds and we hope to have five-fold growth in the next five years, to make S. Chand Group a USD 500 million company. Our vision is not just on papers but executed at ground level. We have the best people in the industry and the best infrastructure. We offer a professional environment to people who have responsibility as well as accountability. We have implemented SAP and planning to go for new distribution and logistics systems. Our printing unit in Sahibabad has a capacity to print 30-40 million books a year,” informs Himanshu optimistically.
Himanshu also shares that S. Chand Group is now a preferred partner of the CBSE International, which has 50-60 schools under its umbrella.
Focus on India…
Being in the publishing business for 75 years now, S. Chand Group still has a potential to grow further. “We are focusing on domestic market rather than looking at opportunities overseas as we feel India has a huge potential. We do some exports but India remains our prime focus,” he says.
S. Chand primarily caters to the CBSE and ICSE Boards, where the books are mainly in English. But, they also plan to expand in vernacular languages and the state level boards, in which S. Chand is still a small player.
“We want to be a part of every sphere of education in an asset-like model as we know every child spends 15-20 years of his life in his education life cycle,” concluded Himanshu optimistically.