24 November 2019 Business

Xerox shuts inkjet's global centre of excellence in France

Six years after buying Impika for its expertise in production inkjet, Xerox is closing its French subsidiary and bringing all development back to the US.

Xerox is closing its Impika subsidiary in France, at one time the worldwide centre of expertise in inkjet printing for Xerox.

The move comes as Xerox turns up the pressure on HP, warning that it could press ahead with a hostile bid for the business. This is unlikely however to had any great bearing on the decision to close the operation in southern France and to make 141 staff redundant. The site will close on 20 December, though some staff have contracts running until the end of March.

Xerox acquired Impika in 2013 and it has since launched the Brenva cut sheet and Rialto and Trivor continuous feed inkjet presses, developing HF ink in order to print on litho stocks without the need to lay down a priming coat. However, Xerox announced the Baltoro as a replacement for Brenva earlier this year. While using HF inks, it also used Xerox’s own printheads and the sheet transport from the iGen portfolio. It was a US developed product.

Nevertheless, the announcement last week came out of the blue for the French employees. At the time Xerox did not issue any official statement, but s spokesman has now said: "We are committed to our broad inkjet portfolio and are investing in production inkjet innovation to introduce new industry-leading capabilities such as the Baltoro HF Inkjet Press. We are closing the Aubagne site at the end of the year and will centralise inkjet manufacturing within existing Xerox sites. We have a robust transition plan in place to ensure business continuity."

However, one Impika employee, speaking to regional newspaper La Provence, declared: “Xerox has demanded that nothing comes out to avoid alarming customers because many of them do not know what is happening. Financial carrots have been dangled to make sure we say nothing, but the 20 December is too late and concern is growing. Many of us feel we have been abandoned to the strategy of driving all profit to the US.”

All Impika’s research and IP will revert to the US. This will make it difficult in negotiations, which are decreed under French law, to find a company willing to take on the business. According to the paper, Kyocera has been approached along with EFI, but without success.

In the longer term, a combined Xerox - HP entity would have access to HP’s thermal inkjet technologies spreading across desktop, office, large format and high speed applications and the Xerox piezo technology which is supplied as an OEM printhead and is part of the Baltoro.

Baltoro is generating a great deal of interest with first North American installations already underway. A machine is in place in the UK showroom in Uxbridge, and negotiations over first sales are at an advance stage. There are a handful of Brenva and Rialto users while the first Trivor in the world was installed at First Move in High Wycombe and DG3 has this year installed a machine at its digital plant in Dagenham.

By Gareth Ward

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Xerox has had some success with Trivor which like Brenva was developed by Impika near Marseille in southern France. Now what had become Xerox worldwide centre of inkjet excellence is being closed down.

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