Briton looks to create power vacuum in Japan

BUNHILL

A NEW challenge beckons for James Dyson, the British entrepreneur who is now in Japan as part of Tony Blair's high-powered business delegation.

For those who don't know him, Mr Dyson is one of the world's biggest suckers - or to put it more accurately, he has cleaned up in vacuum cleaners. And he's done it the hard way. After designing his revolutionary bagless machine in 1978, Mr Dyson spent 14 largely fruitless years trying to find someone who'd back him - British investors, it seems, aren't exactly new men when it comes to household chores. But finally, in 1992, he persuaded a Japanese company to buy the rights to manufacture and distribute the machine in Japan.

Then, using the pounds 750,000 gained from the sale, he set up his own manufacturing plant in Britain and thus was born a range of bagless wonders such as the Dyson Dual Cyclone that have sucked all before them. Nature abhors a vacuum, it's said, but it's quite keen on a vacuum cleaner - and Mr Dyson's products currently account for 33 per cent of sales in the UK.

And now for his next trick. Mr Dyson has just bought back the rights in Japan and is poised to sell a new range of products there. Despite the country's financial crisis and even though, by selling direct to Japan, he will be up against some of the world's most powerful electrical groups.

But even though the task seems as daunting as a shagpile carpet after a New Year party, Mr Dyson is confident. "Japan is still a wealthy country and vacuum cleaners aren't generally subject to recession," he says. "After all, if times are hard, the one thing you want to do is keep your house clean." Well up to a point ... if the last British recession is anything to go by, the one thing you want to do is keep your house.

FROM a business career in full swing to one that's been stalled.

Football followers will be well aware of Steve Bull, the Wolverhampton Wanderers striker in whom many England supporters invested great faith during the1990 World Cup. Bull, it was often said at the time, was the kind of classic English "hairy-arsed centre forward" who would "put the wind up" Johnny Foreigner. (This being football terminology, it's best not to take it too literally.)

As it turned out, foreign defenders didn't mind "having it up 'em" and simply turned the other cheek. However, the self-same hirsute posterior has recently been sought to fill a seat on the board of Beacon FM, the Wolverhampton radio station owned by GWR. And what a lot of knicker-twisting it's been causing.

Last Wednesday, Bull had been due to attend a press conference at Beacon announcing his new post as a non-executive director. As one of the Black Country's best-known names and, at 32, the same age as the station's target audience, his role was to have been to feed back views on Beacon from the local community. Then, at the last minute, Bull pulled out. After checking with the club, he's been told that his contract precluded him from taking up the position.

Beacon, it's fair to say, is under the moon about all this, but the station is not blaming Wolves. It says discussions began with Bull and his adviser, Jim Cadman, last spring and that it received repeated assurances there were no obstacles to the deal. This remained the case even when a rival station, The Wolf FM, was set up last October and Wolves took a stake. So, as far as Beacon is concerned, the last-minute hitch was both unwelcome and completely unexpected.

But Mr Cadman, who organised Bull's testimonial fund last season and was also involved in an abortive takeover bid for Cardiff City football club in 1995, sees things differently. "Let's put this in perspective," he says, "it's not a big deal. The remuneration was a token thing and it was more a case of community spirit." And far from there being extensive talks, he adds, he's only had one small meeting with Beacon. "The only reason I'm involved is that I was chairman of his testimonial, and I happened to be at the radio station with him when the subject first came up."

With the influx of foreign players and managers, it's said that football is now dogged by communication problems. But I'd never realised it was this bad.

A sick building

GREAT news for those who still lament the death of London's Westminster Hospital earlier this decade: Ballymore Properties has announced plans for a pounds 150m redevelopment which it says, without blushing, will "breathe new life into an historic site".

While clearly something of a stranger to medical metaphors, Ballymore does know the language of the real estate market. The redevelopment will feature a "luxury" apartment building, 120,000 square feet of office space and a 500-room "exclusive" hotel - taking it the same way as the old St George's Hospital site opposite Hyde Park. At St George's, they used to deliver babies (including me), now they deliver mini-bars.

Ballymore is keen to point out that residents of the new complex will also enjoy the luxuries of valet parking and a laundry and chambermaid service. So at least that is an improvement on the experiences of the previous occupants in the days when money didn't talk: "Here's a lump of cod and some cold mashed potato - get well soon."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
films
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Austen Lloyd: Company Secretary

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...

Citifocus Ltd: German Speaking Client Specialist

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...

Citifocus Ltd: Performance & Risk Oversight

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Director - SaaS (SME/Channel) - £140,000 OTE

£90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game