Sugar steps down from Amstrad

Sir Alan Sugar has retired, rather than been fired, as chairman of Amstrad, the electrical goods distributor where he made his name.

The departure of Sir Alan, famous for his role as the no-nonsense chairman in The Apprentice, the reality television show, comes after he sold Amstrad to British Sky Broadcasting for £125m last year.

The company, based in Brentwood, Essex, was founded in 1968 and achieved prominence during the 1980s when it dominated sales of early-generation home computers in the UK.

Amstrad, whose name is a contraction of “Alan Michael Sugar Trading”, became a key supplier of satellite dish and receiver equipment in the UK and helped Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Television win its battle with rival BSB to establish itself as the UK’s dominant satellite broadcaster in the early 1990s.

Sir Alan will continue to be involved with his other business interests, including Amshold, Amsprop, Amsair and Viglen computers.

The sale of Amstrad, which floated in 1980, to BSkyB last July is thought to have netted Sir Alan £35m. But he has secured the bulk of his wealth from other interests.

The original Amstrad was split in two in 1997, with one arm, Betacom, assuming the name of its parent. The company’s products have had varied market success. While it continued to operate as a key supplier of digital set-top boxes, its e-mailer – a combined telephone and e-mail device backed by retailer DSG International – proved less commercially successful.

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