Dyson blames COVID-19 as it plans to cut 600 UK jobs

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Inventor James Dyson launches the Dyson DC41 Ball vacuum and the Dyson Hot heater fan in New York. Photo: Rob Bennett/AP

Vacuum cleaner maker Dyson is to cut 900 jobs worldwide, including 600 roles in the UK.

The technology and manufacturing business confirmed redundancy plans in a statement on Thursday, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for a downturn in business.

“The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated changes in consumer behaviour and therefore requires changes in how we engage with our customers and how we sell our products,” a spokesperson said.

“We are evolving our organisation and reflecting these changes to make us faster, more agile, and better able to grow sustainably.

“These proposals would regrettably result in around 600 redundancies in the UK and 300 in the rest of the world. We are fully supporting those who are impacted, finding alternative roles where possible.”

Cuts will fall heaviest on retail and customer services staff.

Dyson employs 14,000 people worldwide, including 4,000 in the UK. It means the cuts will hit the UK hardest, with 15% of the UK workforce facing redundancy against just 3% of staff based outside of Britain.

Dyson is the latest major UK business to announce job cuts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. British Airways, Rolls-Royce, Pret and many more have all announced redundancy programmes in recent weeks.

Official data shows almost 650,000 jobs have been lost across the UK since the pandemic struck. Experts say that figure is being kept artificially low by the government’s job retention scheme. About 9.4 million people have been furloughed under the scheme, which equates to almost one in three British workers.

Dyson is best known for its vacuum cleaners but also makes fans and hairdryers. The company embarked on an ambitious project to build an electric car but ultimately concluded it was unviable last year.

Inventor Sir James Dyson founded Dyson in Bath in 1993. It has grown to become one of Britain’s most successful tech companies, with sales of over £4.4bn ($5.6bn) in 2018. The growth has turned Sir James Dyson into one of Britain’s richest people, worth $6.4bn (£5bn) according to Forbes.

Dyson announced it was shifting its headquarters from Britain to Singapore in January 2019. The move drew attention due to James Dyson’s prominent support for Brexit. CEO Jim Rowan said at the time the move was to “future-proof” the business and had “nothing to do with Brexit.”

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