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Xerox Acquires Impika, Adds Aqueous Ink Jet to Production Color Printing Portfolio

On February 26, Xerox announced the acquisition of Impika, a leading designer and manufacturer of production ink jet printing solutions based in Aubagne, France. Impika’s portfolio of aqueous ink jet devices, including the iPrint range of continuous-feed production printers and iPress range of graphic communications digital presses, is targeted at industrial, commercial, security, label, and package printing markets.

The two firms have been in talks for a number of months, and an agreement was signed in the 24 hours before the announcement. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, and the two firms are still working out the details of the arrangement. Xerox will retain the Impika name and brand, and the acquired company will operate as “Impika, a Xerox company.” The 55 employees of Impika, led by Paul Morgavi, president and chief executive officer, will report to Jeff Jacobson, president of Xerox’s Graphic Communications Operations. While the two research and development groups will continue to focus on their respective areas of expertise, Xerox expects there will be melding in certain areas. “It would be foolish not to use the brain power that we have,” Jacobson told industry analysts during a briefing to discuss the acquisition. “Integration is all about synergies, taking the best of both and building into something bigger.”

According to Xerox, Impika’s aqueous ink jet systems will complement Xerox’s portfolio of color printing technology for the graphic communications marketplace, which includes the firm’s waterless CiPress production ink jet systems. Initially, Xerox positioned its CiPress line for the transaction market, which has less stringent print-quality requirements. However, some customers prefer aqueous ink jet, which is more appropriate for certain applications. Xerox asserts that by adding Impika technology to its offerings, “Xerox will now go to market with the industry’s broadest range of digital presses, strengthening its leadership in digital color production printing.” For Impika, the acquisition means gaining Xerox’s global distribution and strong customer loyalty and brand.

Impika sells its products through its direct sales force and a global network of channel partners. Although Xerox has been a reseller in Europe since 2011 and recently expanded into some developing markets, the two firms expect very little if any channel overlap. Xerox also does not anticipate that the acquisition will have any impact on Impika’s OEM business. Once the firm can ensure adequate service, Xerox anticipates an immediate North American rollout of Impika’s products, including MICR machines.

Implications

Although Xerox is a leader in the production xerography market, the firm has a much smaller presence in ink jet, which is predicted to be a big growth area for this market segment. Jacobson acknowledged, “If you look at our portfolio and strategy, we have the broadest in the industry, but you cannot discount the impact ink jet will have in this space. We have to be as strong in ink jet as we are in xerography.”

To have a strong position against more established production ink jet firms such as Canon/Océ, HP Indigo, and Ricoh InfoPrint, the firm had to move quickly beyond its own CiPress line, which is still in its infancy. Jacobson admitted, “We are always looking at the market and how can we best serve our customers. That was the biggest reason for doing this. We felt we had a bit of a gap, and our goal is to earn the right so that our customers want to do 100 percent of their business with Xerox.” Xerox is also looking beyond traditional print. Impika’s technology is scalable and adaptable for printing on non-traditional substrates.

Because Xerox had recently focused on the services side of its business, its acquisition of a technology manufacturer was a bit unexpected. Nonetheless, this nod to the “technology-enabled” portion of the firm’s corporate slogan makes sense. Xerox is under pressure to slow the downward trend of its technology business, while the firm’s services business faces challenges of its own, including longer buying cycles and front-loaded services engagements. The production print segment is one of the few bright spots for the imaging industry, and Xerox’s acquisition addresses the complexity of the technology, applications, and go-to-market strategy for this market.

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