Alba (brand)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

IndustryConsumer electronics
Founded1917; 106 years ago (1917)
FounderAlfred Balcombe
Defunct2022; 1 year ago (2022)
Alba-branded reel-to-reel tape recorder made in Japan

Alba was a British consumer electronics brand used for budget electronics.[1]

Established in 1917, Alba acquired its rival Bush in 1988, and was bought by the Home Retail Group, the parent company of the retailer Argos in 2008, who in turn was taken over by J Sainsbury plc in 2016.[1] Products bearing the brand name were primarily sold at Argos, and to a lesser extent at Sainsbury's. The Alba brand was quietly dropped by Sainsbury's in 2022 and replaced by its more upmarket sister brand Bush, which has a similar history.[1][2]


Original A.J. Balcombe / Alba company[edit]

The name Alba originated as a trademark used on radio and television produced by A.J. Balcombe Ltd. The company was formed in 1917 or 1918 by Alfred Balcombe. Alba began by manufacturing radio sets from 1922.

In the 1960s they became Alba Group, and made only low-cost consumer products.[3][4]

Alba went into receivership in June 1982.[5] During that time, it was a significant contributor to the development of the British radio & TV industry.

Under Harvard International[edit]

An Alba "Aquaman" personal stereo cassette player

Following the demise of the original company, the Alba name was bought in 1982 by Harvard International.[6]

In 1987, Harvard International renamed itself Alba plc[6] and was floated on the London Stock Exchange under its new name.[6] Alba plc bought Bush in 1988, followed by Goodmans in 1994.

Alba also produced 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.[6]

The company sold its share of the Grundig brand for £25.5 million in December 2007,[7] although it retained the UK distribution rights until 2010.

Acquisition by Home Retail Group[edit]

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.[8] As a result, Alba Group (the former owner) reverted to its previous[6] name, Harvard International, the following year.[9]

Purchase by Sainsbury's[edit]

In September 2016, the supermarket chain Sainsbury's completed its acquisition of Home Retail Group,[10] bringing Argos, along with the Alba and Bush brands, under its ownership.

The Alba brand was dropped by Sainsbury's in 2022 and replaced by the Bush brand.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d Martin Pratt. "Should you buy a Bush, JVC, Logik or Technika TV?". Which. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Never mind the badge on the front - who REALLY made your TV set?". The Yorkshire Post. 5 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Balcombe Ltd., , London manufacturer in GB, radio technology".
  4. ^ "Balcombe Ltd., , London from 'Add-on' S1 to Alba 6401".
  5. ^ "A. J. Balcombe - Graces Guide".
  6. ^ a b c d e "ALBA plc, the group holder". Roadstar (ALBA plc). Archived from the original on 19 April 2008. [GROUP BRANDS include] Alba, Goodmans, Bush, Grundig, Nicky Clarke, Roadstar, JCB, Carl Lewis, Power Devil, NTL, Cable & Wireless, Bush, Betacom, Antony Worral Thompson, Answercall, MOS, Breville, Viva [GROUP HISTORY] 1982 - Harris Overseas Limited renamed Harvard International Ltd, Alba Radio acquired [..] 1987 - Harvard International renamed Alba plc. Alba plc floated on London Stock Exchange
  7. ^ "Design News". Design News. 19 December 2007. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Argos buys Alba and Bush brandnames". 27 November 2008. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Argos has acquired the intellectual property rights to the Alba and Bush trademarks from consumer electronics distributor Alba, that will now change its name to Harvard.
  9. ^ "Alba plc : Change of Name to Harvard International plc". 31 March 2009. Archived from the original on 1 June 2021. Following the sale of its Alba and Bush brands, and in accordance with a condition of that sale, Alba plc will be changing its name to Harvard International plc, with effect from tomorrow (1 April 2009).
  10. ^ "Sainsbury's acquisition of Argos parent company now complete". Retail Gazette. 2 September 2016. Archived from the original on 8 December 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016. Sainsbury's has confirmed its acquisition of Home Retail Group is now complete.

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