Agfa boss Pascal Juéry believes the group’s acquisition of Inca will allow it to speedily enter new high-growth inkjet markets and dramatically increase ink sales.

 

 

 

Following yesterday’s announcement that Agfa had agreed to acquire UK-headquartered Inca Digital Printers and sister company Screen GP IJC from Screen, Juéry updated Agfa investors on the firm’s plans.

“We want to get to critical mass in a market segment we think is quite dynamic. We can plug in Inca to our full service business model – service, and inks of course,” he stated.

He said that acquiring Inca gave Agfa a jump-start in single-pass inkjet.

“We could have developed this on our own but it could take five-, six- or seven years and it would be too expensive and too late [to market]. We prefer to buy.”

While the purchase price has not yet been disclosed, Juéry said that estimates speculating that the price was likely to be one or two times the sales of Inca were accurate.

He also said that Inca’s sales over the past year had recovered to around €36m (£30m), after the pandemic impacted financial year ending 31 March 2021 when sales were £18.5m.

Agfa said it would focus on three markets with its expanded inkjet offering: sign and display, décor and laminates, and packaging.

It also cited three key value drivers: an immediate additional install base in the sign and display market; an accelerated move into single-pass inkjet development via the Speedset B1 sheetfed inkjet targeted at high growth packaging markets using water-based ink; and Inca’s partnership with BHS for large volume corrugated production.

Inca has around 300 Onset installations worldwide.

“This will give us access to a customer base we don’t have today in which we can probably cross-sell other solutions,” Juéry noted.

Agfa compared the ink usage on its Agfa Tauro UHS wide-format printers running at 600sqm/hour at around 3,000 litres per year; while an Inca Onset would consume more than 6,000 litres per year running at 1,400sqm/hr.

Agfa has its sights set on high-growth packaging applications and said the Speedset – with a beta unit set to go in next year and commercial launch slated for 2024 – would use more than 30,000 litres of ink per year.

The Inca print engine for the BHS corrugated application would potentially use more than 100,000 litres of ink per year. There is already a test site in Germany for this device and again the commercial launch is expected for 2024 – also the year of the next Drupa.

Vincent Wille, president of Agfa’s Digital Print & Chemicals division, said the inks being used for the time being on Inca devices would continue to come from Inca’s long-standing sales partner Fujifilm.

However, Agfa is working to qualify its own inks.

“Our intent is quite clearly for us to supply inks going forward, as soon as possible,” Juéry stated.

“We are actively working to approve and qualify our ink sets for Inca machines.”

He said ink was “a growing business” for the group and the use of its own-brand inks would also “drive the EBITDA of Inca going forward”.

He also emphasised that the R&D activities carried out in the UK and Belgium were “complementary” and both would be retained.

“Single-pass inkjet is in its infancy. There are several solutions with UV-based ink but we believe we now have the best and most advanced solutions with water-based inks,” Juéry noted.

He said that Screen had decided to sell Inca in order to focus on its core business and other parts of the printing industry, and that Inca had been “quite an outlier” to the overall Screen group.

“I’m extremely happy and proud to find the right company to accelerate growth of our digital business. Inca is very complementary to our existing network and this is excellent news.”

Screen has said the deal was expected to complete by the end of May, Juéry

Today (21 April) Agfa also announced a reorganisation of its internal finance facilities that will reduce net costs by 25% through centralising and outsourcing. Around 65 jobs are likely to go as a result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Print Week

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