Dezeen Magazine

James Dyson Brexit

Leading Brexiteer James Dyson relocates headquarters to Singapore

Pro-Brexit inventor James Dyson will move his company headquarters from the UK to Singapore in the next few months, but denies that the decision relates to Brexit.

Dyson, which makes vacuum cleaners, hair dryers and other products, said the decision was unrelated to Britain's exit from the EU, which is due to happen on 29 March.

"This decision has nothing to do with Brexit," said the company to Dezeen. "Dyson's centre of gravity has shifted: Asia represents its largest and fastest-growing market of the world."

Instead, Dyson pointed towards a growing market in Asia as the reason for the move, with a "soaring demand for Dyson products across Asia" where consumers are "hungry for the most advanced technology".

James Dyson "optimistic" about Brexit

Billionaire Dyson, 71, studied furniture and interior design at the Royal College of Art and served as the school’s provost from 2011 to 2017, but is the only leading creative-industries figure to argue in favour of Brexit.

In 2017 he said he was "enormously optimistic" about Brexit and described himself as a "patriot".

Dyson began his business with the revolutionary bagless vacuum cleaner in 1993, and went on to redesign a number everyday products, including fans, heaters, hand dryers, humidifiers and the hairdryer.

The company is currently working on its first electric car. It announced in October 2018 that it would manufacture the vehicles in Singapore, rather than in the UK where its research and development and test track are located.

"An increasing majority of Dyson's customers and all of our manufacturing operations are now in Asia; this shift has been occurring for some time and will quicken as Dyson brings its electric vehicle to market," said CEO Jim Rowan.

UK government gave Dyson grant for electric vehicles

In 2016, the UK government gave Dyson a £16 million grant to develop batteries for its electric vehicles. A spokesperson for Dyson wouldn't comment on the grant but said: "Overall, we are investing £1 billion into the vehicle programme and then a further £1 billion into battery technology.”

In the months following the EU referendum, James Dyson suggested that the UK should start the Brexit process immediately. "I would leave and then, over a period of time, I would negotiate things."

Last year Singapore signed a free-trade agreement with the EU, meaning that Dyson will have better access to the single market than he would have had from a post-Brexit UK.

James Dyson remains a director of Beeswax Dyson Farming, which is registered in the UK. The company reported net assets of £461.5 million for the year ending December 2017, from farming, investment property holdings and generation of renewable energy.

No jobs at Dyson will be lost in the UK

Dyson’s revenue in 2018 was £4.4 billion with profits over £1 billion for the first time. The UK represents four per cent of its sales, according to the Financial Times.

Although the company will be registered in Singapore, it insisted that no jobs will be lost in the UK.

Dyson currently employs more than 4,000 people in the UK and the same number in Asia, across Singapore, Malaysia, China and the Philippines.

"We remain committed to the UK," said Dyson." It is where Dyson started and where we are continuing to invest significantly."

"Malmesbury and Hullavington (in the west of England) are home to the largest proportion of our team and will continue to grow. It is business as usual for people outside of the executive team," it continued.

Dyson's move a "betrayal of the public"

The UK government has not commented on the proposed move, but Conservative MP Sam Gyimah and others took to Twitter to protest the decision.

"Dyson's decision to move his HQ to Singapore reflects his narrow business interest. This is not just a transfer of two people. When HQs move, so does the intellectual property. Betrayal of the public who put their faith in him as a British business advocating a No Deal Brexit," said Gyimah on Twitter.

The company's interests in the UK includes a further three-year commitment to its robotics lab at London's Imperial College.

It will also continue to invest in the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, which opened in Wiltshire, UK in September 2017, and to run the international James Dyson Award for designers.