SINGAPORE: British technology firm Dyson announced late Tuesday night (Jan 22) that it will move its corporate head office to Singapore to "reflect the increasing importance of Asia" to its business.
In a press release, the privately owned company known for its bladeless fans and bagless vacuum cleaners said: "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.
"As a result, an increasing proportion of Dyson's executive team is going to be based in Singapore; positioning them to make the right decisions for Dyson in a quick and efficient way."
Dyson, which broke through the £1 billion (US$1.3 billion) barrier for annual profit in 2018, also announced investment plans, including the expansion of the Singapore Technology Centre to double its current size, as well as the Malaysia Design Centre's fifth phase of development.
It reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £1.1 billion (US$1.42 billion) in 2018 on turnover up 28 per cent to £4.4 billion.
According to The Guardian, James Dyson, the 71-year-old billionaire who owns 100 per cent of the company he founded in the 1970s, will "continue to divide his time between Singapore and the UK as the business requires it".
Much of Dyson's product development will remain in southwest England.
A prototype Dyson electric vehicle is in the works for 2020, followed by a product launch in 2021.
With 5,853 engineers and scientists working on its new electric car and other products, the company added that it was still expanding its research and engineering operation in Britain.
There will be construction of new laboratories in the United Kingdom, to cater for the growth of Dyson's energy storage research and robotics programme.
Malmesbury, the location of its original headquarters, as well as Hullavington, London and Bristol, will "continue to be core creative and engineering parts of Dyson", it added.
NOT DRIVEN BY BREXIT
The company said the move from Britain was not driven by Brexit or any tax implications. It already manufacturers products in Asia and will build its new electric car in Singapore.
James Dyson came out in favour of Brexit, days before the 2016 vote, when he said Britain could be about £18.5 billion better off each year if it left the European Union.
But with only weeks before Brexit, other manufacturers are warning of huge damage if no divorce deal is struck.
Chief executive Jim Rowan said the group was seeing the biggest demand for its products like air purifiers and hairdryers as well as cleaners in Asia.
Rowan did not foresee see any issues relating to the movement of goods for Dyson.
"If your supply chain is in Asia, and you are manufacturing in the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, then obviously you don't get badly affected with those changes post-Brexit," he said.
"Our growth rate in Asia has doubled most other places in the world over recent years," he said, adding that more than half of its profit came from the region and the move was aimed at "future proofing" Dyson.
"It allows us to make sure we will be putting our best efforts to secure those opportunities, as well as keeping an eye on those investments, especially EV (electric vehicles) and batteries," he said.
There would be a "negligible difference" to Dyson's tax payments, said Rowan, who is already based in Singapore, where the corporate tax rate is 17 per cent. It is 19 per cent in Britain, but is set to fall to 18 per cent in 2020.
Rowan will be joined by other senior executives, including the company's chief financial officer Jorn Jensen, once the paperwork to re-register is complete. Among them is Roland Krueger, who has been president of the Infiniti Motor Company and senior vice-president of Nissan Motor since January 2015.
Krueger will join Dyson in April to "oversee all aspects of the automotive project as it approaches launch", the company revealed.
"It proves how serious we really are about taking this project, and indeed this division and this category, to the next level," Rowan said.
"We expect to be able to go in and disrupt yet another industry using bespoke Dyson technology and innovation."
Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) noted that the country and Dyson have had a "strong partnership" for more than 10 years.
"Over the past decade, Singapore’s manufacturing sector has been steadily transforming into one that competes based on the deep skills of our workforce, the use of advanced technologies such as robotics and automation and a strong ecosystem of suppliers locally and in the region," said EDB assistant managing director Kiren Kumar on Wednesday.
"We believe that Singapore’s advantages are a good fit with Dyson’s requirements. Singapore’s proximity to the markets in Asia will also enable the company to better capture the growth opportunities in the region."