Durst acquires Aleph

Durst has acquired the Italian company Aleph SrL, which makes textile inks and printers, in a move that should bolster Durst’s capability in this area in terms of manufacturing capability as well as software design and water-based ink experience.

Aleph is based in Lurate Caccivio in Italy’s Como region, which is also home to many other textile manufacturers. The company was set up in 1999 by Alessandro Manes, Roberto Manes, and Roberto Temperini to develop software for the textile industry, completing its first application for digital printing in 2004. By 2006 Aleph had started developing hardware components such as a proprietary rotating belt for digital printing solutions. This was followed in 2008 by a project to develop a textile printer with Mimaki, leading to the Mimaki TX400B that was manufactured by Aleph, with the TX500B coming later in 2012.

At the ITMA 2015 show Aleph introduced its own Laforte 400 textile printing system, partly with the help of the EU’s H2020 funding programme. This year the company showed off its top of the range Laforte 600 – shown above at ITMA 2023 – which prints direct to fabric and can be configured with up to eight colours. There are two versions: one with 24 heads that produces up to 850sqm/hr; and one with 48 heads that can run at up to 1000 sqm/hr. 

The obvious next step was to expand internationally and so Aleph turned to the Italian private equity firm Wise, which became its majority shareholder in 2017. This investment turbocharged the company, helping it to greatly expand its range of products and to enter the textile display graphics market. 

Valentina Franceschini, Senior Partner at Wise Equity, commented: ”We are very proud to have accompanied Aleph during these years of transformation from a distributor to a machinery manufacturer.” She added: “Today among the leaders in sustainable innovation, Aleph has achieved significant goals in terms of organization, product range, and technological development, and we are confident that Durst represents the ideal partner to continue the growth journey.”

Aleph had secured a five year loan of €1 million in February 2022 from UniCredit as part of a ‘Sustainable future’ initiative that was overseen by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development. This was aimed at sustaining Aleph’s sustainable growth strategy in terms of energy efficiency. 

Durst itself is already active in the main markets that Aleph serves, having a range of textile printers for garments, home decor and display graphics, as well as software to back this up and with an international distribution network, so it’s not immediately obvious what Durst will get out of this acquisition. 

Christoph Gamper, CEO and co-owner of Durst Group told me: “We see technological advantages in the merger that we can make available to our customers. At the same time, we can scale the Aleph software and hardware portfolio worldwide and expand our offering of water-based technologies for different applications.”

He added: “Concerning further integration and structuring, there will be a joint strategy development so we can move forward sensibly and step by step.”

Aleph will retain its own identity and Durst will continue to support the existing Aleph customers. Gamper noted: “The management team and all employees will remain with us, as will the site in Como – which is strategic to us.”

Alessandro Manes, CEO of Aleph SrL, stated: “Our shared passion for technological innovation, the pursuit of excellence, and the commitment to true sustainability define this collaboration. Together, we have the opportunity to make significant advancements in the digital textiles, exterior, and interior decoration sectors.”

Clearly Wise felt that having invested in growing Aleph, it was now time to realise the value of that investment, as is the nature of private equity. And Durst has previously demonstrated that it does have the long term strategic vision to help companies such as Aleph expand further. Not surprisingly Gamper did not want to discuss the value of the deal other than to say that Durst did not need any external financing for its acquisitions. Durst itself has expanded rapidly in recent years. This includes acquiring the American large format manufacturer Vanguard Digital, which Durst has since expanded into the European market. Durst has also set up a joint venture with Koenig and Bauer to manufacture digital presses for folding carton.

In addition, Durst has incubated a number of start-ups from its headquarters in Brixen with companies such as Addam, which uses high-end 3D/AM printing technologies to manufacture precision components from metals and plastics, and D3-AM, a spin-off company that uses technical ceramics for additive manufacturing for the automotive, electronics, energy, aerospace and medical technology sectors.

You can find further information on these companies from durst-group.com and alephteam.com.


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