Dyson has announced that it is moving its headquarters from the UK to Singapore. The move will see Jorn Jensen, the chief financial officer, and Martin Bowen, chief technical officer, move to Asia, but the appliance manufacturer insists no jobs will be affected in its current head office in Malmesbury in Wiltshire.
The company insists that the move is nothing to do with Brexit or tax – chief executive, Jim Rowan, said: “It’s to make us future-proof for where we see the biggest opportunities.” – but it’s hard not to be at least a little skeptical and very cynical, given that Jeremy Dyson, the founder and figurehead of the company, is a fully paid-up, drum-beating Brexiteer.
What companies are leaving the UK because of Brexit?
Even if Dyson’s decision to set up away from the UK is nothing to with Brexit – the company said it would be spending £200m in new buildings and testing facilities in Hullavington, and £44m in refreshing office space and adding new laboratories in Malmesbury as well as investing £31m for the young undergraduates at its university on the same site – there are companies who are spooked by the uncertainty surrounding the EU, and considering relocating to the continent or beyond.
Japanese electronics’ manufacturer Panasonic announced that it will be moving its European HQ from the UK to The Netherlands, in a move designed to limit tax issues linked to Brexit. The UK already has one Europe’s lowest corporation tax rates, and it could be lowered even further after Brexit, to help attract investment from businesses. These lower rates could see the UK becomes tax haven for many businesses and while, on the face of it, this is an attractive proposition, but companies operating within tax havens risk being hit with much larger tax bills in their home country. This fear, as well as freedom of movement of staff and goods, is what is thought to be largely responsible for Panasonic Europe’s move to Amsterdam.
Panasonic is just one of a number of Japanese firms looking to relocate from the UK, with retailer Muji is also rumoured to be moving its European HQ from the UK to Germany, alongside Japanese banks Nomura and Daiwa, which are already setting up EU operations in Germany. It’s probably no coincidence that Japan has recently signed a huge trade deal with the EU, and so a presence in the UK will no longer be a priority after Brexit.
Sony is another Japanese tech company that has stated its intention to move its European headquarters from the UK to the Netherlands, in a bid to avoid disruptions caused by Brexit.
The company said the move would help it avoid customs issues tied to Britain’s exit from the EU, but insists it won’t shift personnel and operations from the existing UK operations, meaning UK jobs aren’t affected.
Lloyds of London
Lloyds of London, the banking and insurance group, announced in May that it had received regulatory approval from the National Bank of Belgium to establish an insurance company in Brussels. The company said in a statement: “This milestone moves us closer to our objective of being fully operational in Brussels by 1 January 2019 to ensure we can continue to work closely with our EU27 partners post-Brexit.”
Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW
Nissan is another Japanese firm with a close eye on Brexit. The car giant, which built nearly a third of Britain’s 1.67 million cars last year, has warned there will be “serious implications” for Britain’s manufacturing industry if the UK fails to secure a trade deal with the European Union.
Jaguar Land Rover and BMW are also weighing up their options, particularly in the event of a no-deal outcome.
Airbus is another manufacturing giant that has warned it could leave the UK if the EU divorce bill means leaving the single market and customs union without a transition deal. The company employs 14,000 people at 25 sites in the UK – around half in Wales – and its leaving would be a massive blow to the people in those areas.