While the stress in the UK is naturally on the originator of the Europe-wide success story, Amstrad Plc, it tends to be forgotten that several continental companies are doing very nicely indeed as they ride on Amstrad’s coat-tails. One such is Schneider Rundfunkwerke AG of Trkheim, Bavaria, a family firm whose mainstay used to be furniture. In 1965, Schneider diversified into radios, and three years ago, it added personal computers to its line-up. Going public last October, the company now likes to describe itself as West Germany’s fastest-growing computer company. And, given the Amstrad link, that is on the back of just two products. Schneider introduced the PCW8256 integrated word processor under its Amstrad codename – and subsequent nickname – Joyce in 1985. And in November it introduced the Amstrad PC1512 Personalike at a base price equivalent to UKP500 – $800. The company says it sold 35,000 of the machines in November and December last year, and that it sold another 50,000 in the first five months of 1987 – and that’s out of an annual West German personal computer market that’s put at only 300,000 all told. All of which added up to overall sales during the January to May period equivalent to $120m, which is an increase of 40% on the same period last year and compares with $330m for the whole of 1986, on which it made net profit of $14.5m – gains of 43% and 49% respectively, according to the Wall Street Journal. Like most consumer electronics companies, Schneider’s sales are much stronger in the second half of the year, and audio and video products are still strong strings to its bow – computers still account for only 34% of the total. And the company remains extremely ambitious – it is pitching for $500m in 1990. But there is a cloud on the Amstrad – and likely to Schneider – horizon: in-house manufacture accounts for just 35% of the total, and, ignoring the wisdom of the old adage don’t change a winning formula, the company is thinking of manufacturing its own computers. If it does, there is no guarantee of continued success at the same rate, and it is likely to find itself competing with the Amstrad machines it formerly sold, from another vendor.
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