Alba (brand)

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IndustryConsumer electronics
Founded1917; 102 years ago (1917)
FounderAlfred Balcombe
(Exclusively sold at Argos)
Number of employees

Alba is a British consumer electronics brand owned by Sainsbury's. Its sister brand is Bush. Today, all Alba products are sold exclusively at Argos.[1]


Alba began by manufacturing radio sets from 1922. In the late 1960s they became Alba Group, and made only low-cost consumer products.[2][3]

The name Alba used to be a trademark used on radio and television produced by A.J. Balcombe Ltd. The company was formed in 1917 or 1918 by Alfred Balcombe. It became Alba in 1960, and went into receivership in June 1982.[4] During that time, it was a significant contributor to the development of the British radio & TV industry. In 1982, it was bought by Harvard International.

The company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1987 as Alba plc, buying Bush in 1988, and then Goodmans in 1994.

Alba also produces electronic products under licence for other companies or individuals, including Antony Worrall Thompson, Cable and Wireless, Carl Lewis, JCB, Ministry of Sound, Nicky Clarke and NTL.

The company sold its share of the Grundig brand for £25.5m in December 2007, although it retained the UK distribution rights until 2010.

In November 2008, the Alba and Bush names were purchased by Home Retail Group, the parent company of Homebase and Argos, for £15.25 million. As a result, the former Alba Group was renamed to Harvard International.


Alba products are more basic and cheaper than its sister brand, Bush, which manufactures more professional and more expensive products.[citation needed]

The brand is parodied in the British Sitcom I'm Alan Partridge starring Steve Coogan. In the series, Alan telephones Currys (now Currys PC World) asking about two supplementary speakers for his Alba system, with the aim of achieving surround sound, apparently unaware that such technology was not available for the basic Alba system.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "A. J. Balcombe".
  3. ^ "List of Alba Models".
  4. ^ "Graces Guide".

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