The United Kingdom’s wealthiest man, Sir James Dyson, one of the most prominent funders of the Brexit campaign funders and who called on the government to walk away from the EU without a deal, has announced that he is moving the headquarters of his eponymously-named €4.6 billion business from the UK to Singapore.
Dyson owns 100% of the company, manufactures a range of home appliances including electric vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, air purifiers, and high-end vacuum cleaners as well as conducting research on robotics, artificial intelligence, and battery technologies.
The company passed the £1 billion profit threshold, but the “home market” for the household name products represents only 4% of the company’s annual sales. Just over 50% of the company’s sales are in the Asia-Pacific region, with dynamic growth in China, South Korea, and India.
Dyson’s departure from the UK will have an insignificant effect on Britain’s manufacturing base as the company stopped its domestic manufacturing in 2003, later moving much of the production to Singapore, where the company employs a staff of over 1,100. The company also has plants in neighbouring Malaysia.
In the aftermath of the June 2016 Brexit referendum, Sir James when approached the British government to acquire a former airfield for his company’s expansion in autonomous vehicles. At the time, the move was seen as a vote of confidence to a post-Brexit, though still global, Britain.
he plan was short-lived, however, as Dyson’s self-driving car programme moved to Singapore in November 2018 in preparation for the first car to be launched by 2021.
The timing and symbolic effect of the move is significant. Dyson currently employs 4,000 people in the UK, where the company has two research and development facilities. What is certain is that the choice of Singapore has little to do with cost-saving and everything to do with market access, know-how, and technological expertise.
Singapore has some of the highest average salaries in the world after taxes. Singapore is also home to the planet’s second-largest container port and a manufacturing hub for high-technology products, including Rolls Royce aircraft engines.
While the headline corporate tax rate in the UK is 19%, compared to 17% in Singapore, the small state offers 5-year tax breaks for technology-intensive startups, and co-finances business-optimisation projects by up to 30%.
While the biggest car market in the world is actually China, Singapore combines privileged access to all major markets, including Japan, and offers strong intellectual rights protection.
While commenting on the move, Dyson chief executive, Jim Rowan, alluded to the benefits of a relocation to Singapore, saying the decision to uproot the company’s headquarters from its current UK location in Wiltshire to Singapore had “nothing to do with Brexit” but was about “future-proofing” the business.
According to Sir James’ spokesmen, the 71-year-old will “divide his time between Singapore and the UK” per the requirement of the business.