Dyson injects $100m to expand Tuas plant

Vacuum cleaner maker's investment will double size of facility and output

British-based vacuum cleaner and bladeless fan maker Dyson is injecting $100 million into its motor plant here - its first and only such plant in the world - to more than double its output.

The West Park plant in Tuas was set up three years ago with an initial $100 million investment and makes four million digital motors a year. These advanced, compact digital motors power all of Dyson's cordless vacuum cleaners, which are sold in more than 75 countries.

The latest investment will see the plant double its size to 143,000 sq ft, and increase the yearly production of these advanced motors to 11 million units by the year end.

Production is being ramped up as global demand for cordless vacuum cleaners is expected to grow, just as it has in Singapore, said Dyson chief executive Max Conze.

The Republic is one of several key markets - including Japan, China and Australia - where Dyson's cordless vacuum cleaners outsell its corded range by a factor of two, he said.

Singapore's strength in high- precision manufacturing was key to Dyson's decision to consolidate its position here. "The maintenance of the complex machines demands a highly skilled workforce," Mr Conze said.

Other reasons included strong intellectual property protection laws and logistics infrastructure.

Singapore was also chosen for its proximity to Dyson's main global factory in Senai, Malaysia, that makes everything from vacuum cleaners to bladeless fans to hand dryers.

The company has a research and development lab in Alexandra Technopark in Singapore that works closely with its only other research and development lab in Britain. Dyson said it is also looking to hire 10 more engineers to add to its current team of 100 for electronic motor research work.

Market research firm GfK said sales of cordless vacuum cleaners more than doubled to 34,700 last year from fewer than 14,000 units in 2010. The demand for corded vacuum cleaners has been stabilising over the last five years, with about 120,000 units sold last year.

Ms Jasmine Lim, GfK's account director for home and lifestyle, attributed the sales rise to "a growing demand for a secondary vacuum cleaner that is convenient and portable for easy daily cleaning".

itham@sph.com.sg