Xaar acquires leading print system integrator FFEI

Inkjet technology pioneer buys integrator and manufacturer

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John Mills, CEO of Xaar Photo Xaar
John Mills, CEO of Xaar Photo Xaar

Cambridge, 12 July 2021, Xaar has completed the acquisition of print systems and printbar specialist FFEI Limited. The deal will accelerate the company’s existing growth strategy and will enable Xaar to capture additional opportunities in vertically integrated solutions.

FFEI is a leading integrator and manufacturer of industrial digital inkjet systems and digital life science technology with many years of experience in managing technical integration and engineering projects. Its highly innovative and advanced imaging solutions and printbar manufacturing have enabled the business to establish several joint ventures with world leading organisations in both digital inkjet and life sciences.

The addition of FFEI strengthens Xaar’s capabilities and skills and will help to provide a more comprehensive solution for its growing number of OEM and UDI (User Developer Integrator) customers.

Based in Hemel Hempstead, UK, CEO Andy Cook and CFO Julian Payne will remain in their current roles and report to Xaar’s CEO John Mills. Bob Wilson, FFEI’s CTO, will join Xaar in a senior position within the printhead business, where he will focus on delivering technologies for the company’s UDI customers.

John Mills said, “Having restructured and stabilized our core printhead business, the acquisition of FFEI will accelerate our strategy and expand our customer offering in a range of markets. As well as providing a number of ready-made solutions, the acquisition will further enhance Xaar’s world class expertise.

I’ve personally known the FFEI team for many years and have long admired their capabilities having previously worked closely with them. We are very excited to welcome them to Xaar and look forward to integrating the business as we continue to deliver on our strategy.”

Andy Cook commented, “We are delighted to become part of Xaar which represents a fantastic opportunity for the business to develop and grow. Xaar has been a long-term market leader with great technology and great people and is a perfect fit for the business.”

FFEI employs over 60 people and in the year to 31 March 2021 generated revenue of £9.9 million. The initial cash consideration of £3.7 million was paid on completion, which reflects existing FFEI free cash reserves, with an additional £5.4 million deferred consideration to be paid out over three years. The Board expects the acquired expertise and resource to be utilised for projects that will drive long term profitable growth in Xaar’s core printhead business.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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