EFI opened its Connect 2022 user conference in Las Vegas, USA, with CEO Jeff Jacobson opting for laughs over the typical 45-minute keynote speech format, and allowing a range of TV chat show-type ‘guests’ to provide the key information on forthcoming EFI products and the ‘elephant in the room’ announcement of the acquisition of the EPS business by STG.

Providing insight into industry trends and opportunities generated by the pandemic – some unsuspected – was IT Strategies VP Marco Boer who commented that Covid-19 has ‘exposed the underbelly’ of the graphic business. Mr Boer spoke of the increasingly familiar supply chain issues but also noted bright spots such as onshoring in not only books but also textiles, decor and packaging, as lengthy order and delivery cycles fail to meet consumers’ Amazon-driven expectations. He also pointed out that (in the US at least) there was a demographic change with fewer births since the global financial crisis, meaning that labour issues will continue beyond the Covid pandemic; one solution is automation. He also alluded to a ‘renaissance’ in inkjet applications, particularly in industrial settings, but also in textiles, and noted that with the novel ability for printers to pass on price increases, some were actually profiting from price rises in paper.

To address EFI developments, CTO Doug Edwards and VP of worldwide marketing Ken Hanulec were brought on, initially helping Mr Jacobson play out a Johnny Carson-inspired routine before speaking more seriously. Mr Edwards explained how the company has leveraged its key technologies across and within its ranges, for both ‘shuttle’ and single-pass printing operations from its roll-fed, textile and corrugated printer lines, as well as in software and inks. Mr Hanluec noted a tendency for customers to replace multiple display graphics devices with a single high productivity one; an ‘XT’ shuttle (multiple-pass) product is expected on the display graphics side this year, while Mr Edwards noted that this would be a big year for packaging with several new products to come, including second-generation Nozomi printers that should offer improved reliability and uptime through streamlined design, together with a more compact footprint; products supporting 75 – 100 m/min or possibly faster are on their way.

Gaby Matsliach, now CEO of EPS, provided more detail on the rationale for the acquisition by STG and presented a video from the latter’s Bill Chisholm, who confirmed that there were no plans to combine EPS with any existing companies and stressed the positive feedback gained from existing customers while praising the team and talent within the business. Mr Chisholm stressed that continuity was the plan, as there was ‘a lot of good strength in the brand and customer franchise’.

Mr Matsliach commented that the fact that STG focuses solely on software ‘is of great value to us’ and suggested that the newly-found independence would enable the company to look to address integration with customers outside EFI, while maintaining its close ties with it. He said that the current products would be the foundation for a future that was in ‘safe hands’. New executive chairman Marc Olin also spoke, explaining his motivations in returning to the EPS business, noting that there were potential acquisition opportunities, and the ability to broaden the capabilities and scope of existing applications via plug-ins, as well as increasing the new company’s geographic reach; Mr Matsliach described Mr Olin’s return as ‘a vote of confidence’.

More detail is expected to be revealed on new products over the remaining days of the Connect event, and will be reported here.