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Syft struggles to meet demand as turnaround gathers pace

Tuesday 16th August 2016

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Christchurch-based gas analysis equipment maker Syft Technologies says demand for its high-tech instruments is starting to outstrip production capacity as the firm's recovery from bankruptcy in 2012 gathers pace.

Listed on the ShareMart platform and trading most recently at 4.5 cents a share, Syft directors gained approval at a heavily attended annual meeting for a plan to institute a minimum holding of 40,000 shares, followed by a plan to consolidate the current issued shares on a 20-to-1 ratio, with plans to upgrade the listing, probably to the Unlisted platform.

Chief executive Doug Hastie said that, at this stage, the company was funding growth from working capital and did not have immediate plans to raise additional funds after reporting a second consecutive year of profitability in the year to March 31, at $1.36 million, up from $476,000 the previous year.

Revenue for the year came in at $6.0 million, compared to $3.2 million the previous year.

Established in 2002, Syft initially pursued a medical testing technology that would replace blood and other invasive testing techniques with analysis of human breath but failed to develop a commercial product.

After 2012, it changed tack to concentrate on a wide variety of potential gas-testing uses, starting with testing the atmosphere in shipping containers and moving into testing for trace elements industries as diverse as industrial 'clean rooms' used for high precision manufacturing, internal and external air quality including chimney stack emissions analysis, and processes to eradicate the "new car smell", which Hastie said was a fast-growing segment in the Asian market.

"Westerners like the new car smell, but Asian consumers find it offensive," he said.

The company has found a fast-growing customer in Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung for its instruments, which cost US$250,000 apiece, and is making inroads with a range of major car manufacturing brands, including Ford, Jaguar, and GM.

Food and pharmaceutical manufacturers are also showing interest, especially since Syft added a negative ions component to its instruments, widening the range of elements they can test for.

The Syft instruments differentiate from competitors by their ability to deliver instant results, said Hastie, who said the firm's focus is as much on improving its sales and marketing performance as improving the technology.

The company had hired 20 new staff in the last year, was planning "considerably more" hires than that this year and had committed to opening a sales office in Germany to pursue opportunities in Europe.

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