On April 22, Inkmaker Group became IM GROUP. The official launch - in the planning for approximately two years - was filmed at Inkmaker’s Headquarters in Turin, Italy, which are now also the headquarters of IM GROUP.
The Group has been evolving on many fronts, both internally – from its systems and processes, its software, the technology it uses and how it uses it, up to its global teams around the world – and externally. In fact, after acquiring several companies since 2019, which allowed Inkmaker to grow by 25% globally, combining expertise, intel, technology and hardware, Inkmaker’s strategy was to consolidate all its brands under a single holding group brand, originally known as Inkmaker Group. From April 22, the group has been rebranded as IM GROUP, with its own distinct identity, to better compete in the marketplace as a total solutions provider.
“The decision to rebrand Inkmaker Group as IM GROUP stems from the group’s VISION, which is to evolve our technology to expand in our fields and adapt, the advantages of our products, to new markets. Since October 2019, Inkmaker has made large investments, on the acquisitions of the businesses of Rexson and Valtech in UK, Tecnopails in Italy and most recently Swesa, in Germany. The driving strategy behind these acquisitions was to create a reliable complete supply chain - serving predominantly, but not only, the ink, paint and coatings industry - to sustain our core businesses. This meant restructuring our brands into various specialities, yet to still be one strong force, hence the need to rebrand the existing Inkmaker Group brand, to have an identity of its own, as an autonomous holding brand. This is the evolution of Inkmaker Group, which is essentially that of Inkmaker”, explains Silvio Cimenti, Global Director of Branding, Marketing and Communications, IM GROUP.
Having the holding brand IM GROUP to steer all speciality brands, the company foresees all its brands to grow exponentially.
“The name ‘IM’ has a historical meaning for us”, says Valentina Cigna, Global Director of HR and President of IM GROUP, explains. “The ‘I’ and the ‘M’ are acronyms deriving from the name Inkmaker, the founder of the group, and it meant a lot to us to remember those who, in 1987, founded Inkmaker: Carlo Musso, Luciano Longobardi and - especially for me - my father, Giuliano Cigna. He would have been very proud of this moment.”
The new logo
The rebranding also entailed the creation of a new logo, able to communicate the values and mission of IM GROUP.
“The logo is made up of a symbol, a logotype and its credo”, says Silvio Cimenti. “The symbol is a face created from a series of triangles inspired from the Inkmaker logo in blue to convey trust, confidence and high-technology. The triangles converge, like the many brands and skills of the Group, to form a strong whole - a distinct ‘human identity’ - depicting a technological engineering leader with a ‘human touch’. The face is embellished with a crown, representing the Group’s determination to maintain its leading position in the industries it serves. The symbol is flanked by the words IM GROUP, in a custom designed font to communicate the Group’s various fields of business such as paint, coatings, ink, speciality-chemicals, adhesives and much more. Below the logo, in steel grey, the Group’s credo and positioning line; ‘The Colour of Trust’, a result of its core values of being Truthful, Responsible, Understanding, Safe and Tailormade to ultimately position the group, as the leader you can TRUST.”
How this evolution is affecting operations in Asia Pacific
IM GROUP is evolving on all fronts and in all its locations globally.
“We have expanded our premises in Malaysia, to house our Tinting and Engineering brand, Teko together with Inkmaker”, explains Roberto Guerra, CEO Asia Pacific, IM GROUP. “In Thailand, this year we just opened a sales and service office, with our own staff. We are gaining market share in Philippines. The big one of course is China, suffice to say that due to our larger premises we can now double the number of standard machines we ship monthly, from an average of 5 or 6 units to 10 to 12 ink and paint dispensing systems. More importantly, the real added value for us, is the capability to build more complex units, which is where IM GROUP’s R&D is investing a lot of resources. Smart factory and Industry 4.0 are driving our growth and when you build complete production lines for a paint and ink company it’s important to have enough space to work in total safety.”
In Shanghai, the IM GROUP expansion plans have already been brought forward.
“In April 2020, we were in the news, when we expanded our facilities to double the size of our previous production area”, says Lau Kar Seng General Manager, Inkmaker Shanghai and Board Member of IM GROUP. “At the time it was at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, but we had to do it to meet the escalation in demand. The move has resulted in being hugely beneficial to us. Bigger premises mean we can manufacture more machines and can now offer a greater variety. We are already offering customers the entire portfolio of our brands. So, for us the new IM GROUP brand will certainly impact business positively, in China. It creates a platform for us to promote all our brands individually, or working in unison with a single focus, as a total solutions provider.”
The commitment to social responsibility and sustainable practices
IM GROUP is committed to create a safe work environment and evolve in the way in which its products are impacting the environment, starting with its carbon footprint.
“This is precisely the reason that we chose to launch IM GROUP on the World Earth day”, states Valentina Cigna. “We are making a global statement of our commitment to further our social responsibility and sustainable practices. To action this, IM GROUP is partnering with Deloitte to create a roadmap to reduce our eco-impact - the current resources we use and waste we create - so we too can do our part in reducing environmental pollution. And to align our ethical principles for a safe work environment with those of the United Nations' Global Compact.”
Additionally, the group is forming an IM GROUP Foundation, to be ready by end of this year, which will be followed by IM GROUP’s goodwill ambassador, Alice Guerra, as foundation chairman. It will have 2 scopes: bringing social activities to members of the local communities where IM GROUP operates and offering career development and growth opportunities to the youth in those communities.
“On a private level, we have always been active in this field, especially in South-east Asia, working closely with children with special needs through workshops and activities” says Cigna. “Now we will be bringing this activity to the next level and into our IM GROUP.”
Becoming a total solutions provider
The acquisitions carried on throughout the years also had the goal of making IM GROUP a total solution provider.
“Being a total solutions provider is our mission, and this is precisely why we acquired the brands that we did”, states Gianluca Incerti, Global Commercial Director, IM GROUP. “Our strategy is to create ‘areas of excellence’ dedicating each of our brands to a specific expertise, that can come together—like our logo—to form a strong force. Each brand can still work individually with its existing clients in its own markets and when required share their expertise—offering Total Solutions—for example on large turn-key plant engineering projects. This guarantees resource optimisation and high flexibility to manage projects of all sizes. This was one of the key reasons for forming the holding brand, IM GROUP, in the first place. For example; Rexson and Vale-tech had their own unique technology, now, that we are one large team, we are consolidating each brand’s strength and combining, resources, technology and software and we can take a tremendous advantage in the integration with Inkmaker to offer state of the art solutions.”
With the restructuring of its own brands, Inkmaker will focus on ink dispensing and software design; Rexson will be predominantly for paint as well as liquid ink, Vale-Tech will focus on narrow-web and paste-ink dispensing—so UV flexo ink and offset inks; Swesa mainly for food, pharmaceutical, corrugated packaging, cosmetics and more; Teko will remain in POS Tinting and R&D Training and Tecnopails for Filling Solutions.
“Externally, we believe this decision makes it clearer for our clients to differentiate our brands and their purposes. Internally, for us, we can focus our R&D attention on developing that brand’s expertise”, continues Incerti. “Dividing the market-sectors across each brand, was one of the main reasons for creating the IM GROUP brand and will be an important advantage, to differentiate the GROUP, in the market. Another such advantage, which has been playing a major role since the acquisitions, is Inkmaker’s legendary software”.
Inkmaker’s software: the brain behind IM Group
A significant investment has been made into the Software & Automation division purposely to ensure a smooth transition with new brands in the family, but also to increase the level of our technological capabilities. Inkmaker’s software is the essence of the company’s systems and by incorporating them into the newly acquired brands’ machines, it elevates the productivity and performance of those brands to a much higher and more energy-efficient level.
“Inkmaker’s software, now known as IM GROUP’s IMAESTRO, was designed inhouse by our Software team”, explains Francesco Nesti, Global Director of Software & Automation, IM GROUP. “It has always defined us as a leader amongst our competitors, therefore it plays a major role in the operational execution of IM GROUP’s global strategy. We have since expanded our software line to another one, called IMPRIMO, which we recently released with our Ink-transfer/supply system, Inktrasyst, and another three are under development, planned for release by next year.”
On a customer service level, earlier this month the Software & Automation team launched a new training programme for customers called ASIST—Advanced Software Intelligence Systems Training—which combines IoT automation and artificial intelligence, with the skills of IM GROUP’s experts, to boost the training level of our systems.
The programme consists of four certifications, known as CMYK, and covers many new features from the group’s basic machine structures to in-depth workings of its software and offers techniques to improve efficiency, reduce costs and shorten response time to market demands.
“Our global strategy is to offer ‘Total Process-Engineering’ to our clients worldwide”, says Enrico Mattiazzi, Global Director of Engineering, Production and Supply Chain, IM GROUP. “Therefore, our acquisitions are part of that strategical plan to reach that goal, and consists of re-organising and broadening our product range to ensure our Group’s growth sustainability for the next 10 to 15 years. With my technical team, we have been studying the various machines, of our brands, their capabilities and performances and their related market positionings.
In order to meet this—market-segment distribution—several machines were removed, while others have been re-designed to meet higher standards of mass customisation, reliability and performance and to give wider and broader solutions to our customer’s needs. One such example is that we are integrating and upgrading the whole Rexson and Vale-tech product range to improved versions. Others are planned for upgrades throughout the year. The most important feature of this re-engineered and integrated range of machines is the synergy with our IMAESTRO software that will greatly benefit our clients.”