Comment: A death that will not be mourned in the City

'The problem was that the Amstrad PC was - and Mr Sugar is the first to admit this - a one off, a bit of fluke really, and as the competition caught up and overtook him, he could never find anything remotely comparable to replace it'
Click to follow
So farewell then Amstrad, the company that brought PCs to the masses. The City, for one, won't regret your passing, and nor will Alan Sugar, your creator, who has been just dying to throw his company to the wolves, as much out of pique as anything else, ever since the City turned down his plans to take it private.

The story of Amstrad's rise and fall has been much told, analysed and commented upon and it is perhaps unnecessary to go over it all again now. All the same, a little piece of history passes into the mists of time with the final demise of this one time wonder stock. So it is worth recalling what Amstrad once stood for and why, like so much of the 1980s, it was never going to last.

Alan Sugar came very much from the barrow boy school of entrepreneurialism, and while there's nothing wrong with that, his instinct was always going to be that of the street trader he originally was. But to claim, as some do, that he epitomised the fast buck, short termist culture of the rolling 1980s, is too harsh a judgement. His brilliance was in making first the word processor, and then the PC, accessible to the mass market. Many followed in his wake, and the market eventually fragmented and matured beyond his reach. But he was the first, and his achievement in galvanising and energising an industry in this way, is a very considerable one. He was one of the catalysts for the PC revolution.

The problem was that the Amstrad PC was also - and Mr Sugar is the first to admit this - a one off, a bit of fluke really, and as the competition caught up and overtook him, he could never find anything remotely comparable to replace it. In the circumstances, Amstrad's decline was probably managed as well as it could have been, and though Mr Sugar was severely criticised for attempting to take his company private at what was widely believed to be an undervalue, it is worth noting that Amstrad shareholders would have done rather better by accepting his offer and reinvesting the proceeds in the stock market than by staying the course.

When a man doesn't want to work for you, he doesn't want to work for you, and if Amstrad was going nowhere before Mr Sugar's bid, that's been doubly the case since then. So yesterday's breakup proposals are probably the best course left open to Amstrad's shareholders. And if any of them still have a stomach for Mr Sugar's, shall we say, somewhat cavalier approach to the investment community, they can always try their luck with Tottenham Hotspur, where Mr Sugar is perilously close to mismanaging his star player, Teddy Sheringham, out of the side

Comments