Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Industry leaders shut British HQs ahead of Brexit

Dyson will move to Singapore but insist it has nothing to do with Brexit

British billionaire James Dyson has bought the most expensive penthouse in Singapore, a three-floor residence with a rooftop terrace, private pool and Jacuzzi. AFP
British billionaire James Dyson has bought the most expensive penthouse in Singapore, a three-floor residence with a rooftop terrace, private pool and Jacuzzi. AFP

A modern day symbol of British engineering success, Dyson, the vacuum cleaner pioneer, has announced it is to move its corporate offices to Singapore from Britain following the tech giant Sony in shifting out of Britain.

The Japanese electronics conglomerate said it would move its European base from the UK to the Netherlands to lessen the blow of a no-deal Brexit.

Sony plans to register Amsterdam as the legal headquarters of its £3.3 billion European empire on the 29 March 2019 when the UK is supposed to leave the EU, The Telegraph reported. Job losses are not expected nor are the movement of staff or business functions.

Dyson, whose eponymous founder Sir James is an arch Brexiteer, insisted their decision was motivated by a desire to be close to the fast-growing Asian markets and not because of the UK leaving the EU.

A large chunk of its product development will stay in south west England and Dyson pointed out its new electric car is being produced in Singapore, as are many of its products across Asia. CEO Jim Rowan told reporters the change in its tax bill would be minimal.

"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.

Dyson has profited from high demand in Asia and announced it had hit £1 billion annual profit for the first time.

The move was quickly seized upon on by Remaineer MP Layla Moran, who described it is as a “staggering hypocrisy” from the pro-Brexit businessman.

"It is utterly unbelievable that the business face of Brexit is moving yet another part of his business out of the UK,” she said in a statement.

"James Dyson can say whatever he wants but he is ditching Britain. This can only be seen as a vote of no confidence in the idea of Brexit Britain,” added Ms Moran.

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Meanwhile the head of Bentley, the car maker that employs 850,000 people in the country, has described Brexit as “the killer” in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.

“If we ended up with a hard Brexit... that would hit us this year because we do have a potential to get beyond break-even to do the turnaround.”

“It would put at fundamental risk our chance of becoming profitable.”

Businesses in particular are fearful of a no-deal Brexit and, as a result, Sterling has traded in volatile and unpredictable swings. Prime minister Theresa May had her Brexit deal rejected in parliament a week ago and survived a no confidence vote the day after. She now has to find a way with opposition parties and her own allies to conjure up a deal that would be accepted by MPs.

Updated: January 22, 2019 09:21 PM

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