Entrepreneurial engineering group Dyson has announced record annual profits boosted by Asians giving up their “dustpans and brush”, but warned that it was struggling to hire skilled British engineers to work on new projects.
The group, founded and now chaired by James Dyson, said profits for 2014 had, after an eight per cent foreign exchange rate hit, climbed 13 per cent to £367m. Turnover rose ten per cent to £1.4bn.
Dyson, which sells to 75 markets outside of the UK, said Asian demand had been a big driver as it doubled the size of its China business, recorded fast growth in South Korea and kept its position as market leader in Japan – its second largest market – as well as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Asian shoppers in particular liked the group’s bladeless fans, purifiers and humidifiers. Its core cordless vacuum cleaners saw a 68 per cent global sales rise. European growth was led by Italy, Spain and Germany.
The group ramped up its research and development spend by 40 per cent to £113m, which equates to £3m a week. Out of its Malmesbury, Wiltshire campus and R&D laboratories and its high technology manufacturing complex in Singapore it is working on developing new technologies such as upgrading its digital motors and energy dense batteries.
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Last year it also acquired Jake Dyson Lighting, the group founded by Dyson’s son, which is developing core lighting technology such as LED lamps.
James Dyson said: “We are developing expertise in entirely new areas. We are working on the core technology which will deliver the next leap in technology. For that we need the world’s best engineers whether at Malmesbury or in universities we are partnered with. Our technology is our future.”
However Max Conze, chief executive, said the group, which has 1,400 engineers working in the UK and 2,500 in total worldwide, is still struggling to fill 300 vacancies. He said there was a lack of UK trained engineers and it may have to look abroad for new talent or try and hire foreign graduates from British universities.
Despite this he added: “The blueprint we put in place four years ago is now a reality – rather than full size vacuums, the majority of our business comes from cordless vacuum cleaning and our growing range of Air Multiplier technology. Asia drives our growth, where our air purifier technology is taking us into new homes and cordless vacuum technology is consigning traditional dustpan and brush to the bin.”
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