Sir James Dyson, the British billionaire inventor and outspoken Brexiter, is moving the headquarters of his vacuum cleaner and hair dryer technology company to Singapore.
The Dyson chief executive, Jim Rowan, said the move from Wiltshire to Singapore had “nothing to do with Brexit” but was about “future-proofing” the business. The move of Dyson’s legal entity from the UK to Singapore “will happen over the coming months”, meaning it could take place before Brexit.
Sir James, who owns 100% of the company and has built up a £9.5bn personal fortune, did not comment on the move. Rowan said the decision to leave the UK was made by Sir James together with “the executive team”.
Dyson’s top executives – including Rowan and the finance director, Jørn Jensen – will be based in Singapore. The company said Sir James, 71, would “continue to divide his time between Singapore and the UK as the business requires it”.
Rowan said moving to Singapore was part of “the evolution” of the company. When asked whether Dyson could still be referred to as one of Britain’s best success stories, he said the firm should now be referred to as a “global technology company”.
In 2014, when Dyson promised £1.5bn of invesment in the UK, the then prime minister, David Cameron, said: “Dyson is a great British success story and the expansion of the Malmesbury campus will create thousands of new jobs, providing a real boost to the local economy and financial security for more hardworking families.
“Investment on this scale shows confidence in our long-term economic plan to back business, create more jobs and secure a brighter future for Britain. Dyson is a company looking to the future, and its continued investment in developing technology will help to cement its leading role on the global stage.”
Rowan said the decision was not made for tax reasons. The corporate tax rate in Singapore is 17%, compared with 19% in the UK.
Dyson has already shifted the vast majority of its production to Singapore, and has announced plans to build a new electric vehicle plant in the city state. The factory is scheduled for completion in 2020 and is part of a £2.5bn investment in new technology.
The company said some of the investment money would be spent in the UK, where it has a research and development campus employing 3,500 people. Dyson said the relocation of its headquarters would not effect overall staff numbers.
The move was announced as the company reported record profits of £1.1bn last year.
Sir James has previously urged ministers to walk away from talks with the EU without a deal – he has said “they’ll come to us”, arguing that European firms would want to sell their goods in Britain rather than lose market access.