Handelsblatt Interview

Dyson: Brexit Gives Us Back Independence

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    James Dyson is a popular businessman whose support of Brexit had an impact on the outcome of the referendum.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Dyson generates 90 percent of its revenue abroad.
    • It sells its products in 75 countries. Its most important markets are the United States and Japan.
    • Last year, the Dyson’s revenues rose 45 percent.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf
Japan Dyson Founder
James Dyson believes Britain will be better off going it alone. Source: DPA

Renowned British inventor and entrepreneur James Dyson told Handelsblatt Britain’s decision to leave the European Union represents a great opportunity, despite predictions that Brexit could hurt British exporters like Mr. Dyson’s eponymous company.

Prime Minister Theresa May is set to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on Wednesday, officially launching the process of Britain leaving the European Union. Ms. May has made clear she also intends to pull out of the European single market for goods and services, though compromises with Brussels could still keep elements of it in place.

While many analysts predict this would hurt British exporters, Mr. Dyson told Handelsblatt Britain now has the opportunity to negotiate better trade deals with other countries.

He said the main advantage of Britain leaving the European Union would be regaining the power to determine its own laws and set its own tax rate. Mr. Dyson said he feels European and owns a house in France, but did not want to be governed by Europe.

His company, which makes vacuum cleaners and other household appliances, generates 90 percent of its revenue abroad. It sells its products in 75 countries, with the United States and Japan its most important markets.

It is also growing fast. The Dyson company’s workforce expanded four fold in the last five years. Critics point out that Mr. Dyson has pushed for Brexit while moving production abroad, to Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. But he insists the products, profits, and taxes paid on them, are British.

Last year, the company’s revenue rose 45 percent to £2.5 billion, about €2.9 billion or $3.1 billion. It made a pre-tax profit of £631 million.

Mr. Dyson has been at the forefront of innovation since 1978, when he developed a high-end, efficient vacuum cleaner that has dominated the market ever since. He has since transferred daily management of his company to a German executive, Max Conze, leaving him free to work with his 3,500 engineers on new products.

Robotics, battery technology, and artificial intelligence projects are all in the pipeline. And while he refuses to comment on rumors the company is developing an electric car, he does confirm Dyson will be a key player in the industry. It already makes 19 billion battery cells a year and the electric car market will certainly drive up demand.

Kerstin Leitel is a correspondent for Handelsblatt in London. To contact the author: leitel@handelsblatt.com

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