150 jobs lost as Sugar goes ahead with Amstrad revamp

TOM STEVENSON

City Editor

Amstrad is to lose 150 jobs as part of the reorganisation that former chief executive David Rogers, who quit just before Christmas, refused to implement. The cuts confirm the threatened slimming down of the loss- making Amstrad Consumer Electronics subsidiary, once the core business but now just one part of a diversified group.

The restructuring of ACE means one of its two divisions, Amstrad Direct, will relocate to the Middlesex base of Viglen, the direct sales computer business Amstrad recently acquired. Amstrad Trading, which focuses on indirect retail sales of TVs, videos, satellite and audio equipment, will remain at Amstrad's Brentwood headquarters but in a pared down form.

Alan Sugar, chairman, said yesterday: "The market trend in consumer electronics means only lean organisations who concentrate on their core skills will flourish. This reorganisation puts Amstrad Trading and Amstrad Direct on a sound footing for the future and on an equal basis to their respective competitors."

David Rogers, who was brought into the company 18 months ago with a brief to build up the company's traditional business, resigned after Amstrad abandoned that strategy in favour of becoming a holding company for the acquisitions it has made in recent years. A search for a replacement is under way but an Amstrad spokesman warned that finding the right person might take some time.

Last October, Amstrad revealed that despite Mr Rogers' best efforts, ACE remained unprofitable, although the group as a whole had returned to the black thanks to the contribution from Viglen. A fuller picture will emerge on Thursday when Amstrad unveils interim figures for the six months to December.

After the departure of Mr Rogers, speculation was revived that Alan Sugar might be planning another bid to return the company he founded to private control. The company has denied a repeat of the buy-back attempt that dragged Mr Sugar into conflict with the City in 1992.

The ousting of Mr Rogers raised fears that Mr Sugar might be reverting to the assertive, hands-on management style that culminated in his failed attempt to buy back the two-thirds of Amstrad he does not already own.

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