Xaar acquires FFEI

Xaar has acquired print systems developer FFEI for an initial cash payment of £3.7 million, which reflects existing FFEI free cash reserves, with an additional £5.4 million deferred consideration to be paid out over three years. Xaar expects that the expertise of the FFEI staff will drive long term profitable growth in its core printhead business.

John Mills, took over as CEO of Xaar at the end of 2019.

FFEI is based in Hemel Hempstead, UK, not that far from Xaar’s headquarters in Cambridge. The company employs over 60 people and in the year to 31 March 2021 generated revenue of £9.9 million. The company was set up in 1997 as Fujifilm Electronic Imaging but has a rich history that dates back to 1947 with the start of the legendary Crosfield Electronics, which was later acquired by De La Rue, and then Fujifilm.

In 2006 CEO Andy Cook, CFO Julian Payne and CTO Bob Wilson completed a management buyout, changing the name to FFEI. Cook and Payne will stay on in their current roles at FFEI, reporting to Xaar’s CEO John Mills. Wilson will join Xaar in a senior position within the printhead business, where he will focus on delivering technologies for the company’s User Developer Integrator, or UDI, customers. 

FFEI is one of those really interesting companies that have come up with a whole raft of different products over the years and should be an excellent fit for Xaar. The company has a long proven track record in industrial inkjet integration projects and has worked with a number of companies. Back in 2013, FFEI and Fujifilm developed the Graphium inkjet label press, which coincidentally forms the basis of Canon’s current LabelStream 4000.

It’s no accident that the Graphium used Xaar printheads as FFEI has also collaborated with Xaar in several projects over the years, including developing the Xaar Print Bar system, which was first shown at Label Expo in 2015. As well as print projects, FFEI also has a useful side line in life sciences, with products such as the Sierra colour calibration for digital pathology.

John Mills, Xaar’s CEO, explained: “Having restructured and stabilised 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.”

Mills added: “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.”

For those readers that want to better understand the context behind this acquisition I’d suggest reading my report from last year – Under the Sun – in which Mills discussed future acquisitions and vertical integration. 

In the meantime, you can find more information on both companies from ffei.co.uk and xaar.com.


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