Britain Has a New Wealthiest Man After Dyson's Big Year

(Bloomberg) -- James Dyson, the inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, is now the wealthiest person in Britain after his company posted a record profit for 2018.

Earnings at Dyson Ltd. reached 1.1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) for the year, up from 801 million pounds in 2017, boosted by demand for new hair products, the company said Tuesday in a call with reporters. The results added about $3.4 billion to his wealth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 richest people.

Britain Has a New Wealthiest Man After Dyson's Big Year

Dyson, 71, is now worth $13.8 billion. The firm’s press office didn’t respond to requests for comment on the fortune of its founder and chairman.

The gain catapults him ahead of Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of chemicals manufacturer Ineos Group, and highlights the waning power of inheritances among the wealthiest Britons. The family of Hugh Grosvenor, the seventh Duke of Westminster, had been the U.K.’s richest thanks to land they’ve owned since 1677 until he was overtaken by Ratcliffe last year. He’s now the third richest with a fortune of $12.4 billion.

Dyson, one of Britain’s biggest technology companies, has benefited from a growing customer base in Asia, where it now gets more than 50 percent of its profit. In November, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said that some of its top-selling products during its annual Singles’ Day event came from Dyson.

The company best known for vacuum cleaners and hand dryers has expanded into air purifiers and hair-care products, and embarked on a costly project to build an electric car by 2021.

Dyson’s rise in the wealth ranking comes as his company loosens its ties to the U.K. The company plans to move its headquarters to Singapore from Wiltshire, England, Chief Executive Officer Jim Rowan said in the call with reporters.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.