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Esko-Graphics closes successful 2004 - off to a strong start in 2005

Press release from the issuing company

Gent (Belgium), February 2005 - Esko-Graphics reports that it has exceeded all of its vital business targets for 2004. The company enters 2005 with a solid optimism based on record 2004 sales in strategic product lines, a revitalized growth in the packaging markets, and a much improved operational efficiency as a result from its recent restructuring actions. Kim Graven-Nielsen, President and CEO of Esko-Graphics, expresses his satisfaction with the company’s achievements: "Esko-Graphics has made exceptional progress towards the goals we set out following the merger in 2001 – 2002. Despite the continued difficult business climate in the overall graphics industry, we have been able to grow our core businesses at rates well above the industry average. Our packaging sales have increased by more than 6% year-over-year, with growth in all regions around the world – even over 50% in Japan. We have completed optimizing and restructuring our processes throughout the company, including in our regional sales and service organizations. We are ready to engage in a strong, profitable and fast growing business performance in 2005, with a clear focus on packaging and small format offset." Successful introduction of Scope at DRUPA 2004 DRUPA 2004 was an ideal occasion for Esko-Graphics to roll out its latest and greatest products. “This was the first DRUPA for Esko-Graphics, an important milestone where we clearly made our mark," comments Kim Graven-Nielsen. “We had an extremely successful show, where we presented a fresh and dynamic corporate image and an impressive product portfolio in response to our customers’ needs. Orders during DRUPA surpassed our expectations, and sales have remained strong ever since." DRUPA marked the public introduction of Scope, Esko-Graphics’ advanced end-to-end workflow solution fully based on industry standards including PDF, JDF, XMP and XML. Scope immediately enjoyed a positive response from a receptive audience that showed clear support for Esko-Graphics' vision on supply chain management. No less than 60 configurations were sold during the show to major packaging and commercial print customers, and many more have been ordered and installed afterwards. Scope transforms standard desktop applications into powerful production clients, making complex workflows not only more affordable but also easier, faster and less error-prone to operate. The advanced integration with management information systems and other workflows greatly improves communication and collaboration on globally distributed processes. Continued growth in digital flexo and samplemaking Esko-Graphics reports record sales of Kongsberg tables in 2004, with an increase by 25% over the previous year. The new feature-rich MultiCUT toolhead addresses many customer needs in packaging, POP and signmaking. A technology and distribution partnership with MGE in North America further extends the market opportunities of digital printing into the signmaking market. In this area, Esko-Graphics recently announced a cooperation with Scitex Vision. Esko-Graphics' affirmed its leadership in digital flexo platemaking introducing superior technology to further enhance the CDI’s productivity and flexibility. At the end of 2004 close to 550 CDI platemakers were installed and operating around the world. Esko-Graphics’ market surveys indicate that over 90% of all flexo plate imaged digitally are produced on a CDI. 2005: Focus on packaging and small offset Esko-Graphics goes into 2005 with a clear determination to further build on its core strengths: workflow solutions for packaging and commercial printing, digital flexo platemaking, samplemaking and short run converting, and small format CtP for offset. "With a primary focus on the packaging markets, Esko-Graphics will continue to develop and to offer value-adding solutions integrating software, hardware and a growing selection of customer services”, concludes Graven-Nielsen. “Next to that, our successful CtP products for the small format offset market will be available through our reseller and OEM partners. And finally, we prepare new initiatives to further fuel our market development and business growth – expect more!”