Alba is ready to cash in on the great internet TV gamble

Consumer Electronics group Alba this week claimed its corporate gamble — being first to the UK market with an internet-enabled TV— shows early signs of paying off.

The Essex-based company has supplied 175,000 of the 14in Bush Internet sets to retailers, and 50,000 customers have signed up for web access in the four months since its launch in July.

Alba will soon launch larger format Bush Internet sets, and has linked with major web content and service providers VirginNet and Freeserve.

The TV offers consumers full internet access and e-mail via their normal phone line. Chairman John Harris said Alba’s first-mover advantage would give it the chance to establish Bush Internet with a significant number of users. ‘We believe that we will enjoy a unique position with this product for many months to come,’ said Harris.

The cost of launching Bush Internet more than halved Alba’s pre-tax profits to £2m for the six months to September.

Most of the revenue generated by the new venture came after the period covered by its interim results. If the new product is excluded, the company achieved a 27% increase in profits to £5.6m.

Sales for the period rose 35% to £170m, reflecting a particularly strong six months for the group as a whole.

Its UK consumer electronics businesses, Alba, Bush and Goodmans, all increased sales year-on-year.

Goodmans’ turnover rose 41% to £19m thanks to increased sales of personal CDs, TV and audio products.