Dyson's profits soar thanks to Japanese vacuum

Following its success in the US, where it outsells Hoover based on the value of its sales, Dyson moved to take on the giants of the home-appliance world in their home market of Japan. Its mini-vacuum cleaner, the DC12, outsold all other cleaners in the Japanese market last year.

James Dyson, the company's founder, owner and boss, said the success of the mini-Japanese model reflected the tens of millions of pounds the group had invested in research and development. Last year it spent £50m on R&D, 28 per cent more than the previous year.

He said it had seemed "impossible" to sell vacuum cleaners to the Japanese because it was home to all his main rivals. Dyson now controls 11.8 per cent of the Japanese market, overtaking homegrown brands such as Sharp, Sanyo and Mitsubishi. Sales in the country rose 177 per cent to ¥9.6bn (£45m).

Dyson managed to shrink its infamous bagless vacuum cleaner down by inventing a new digital motor, which is half the weight and three times as fast as the motors it uses in other models.

Mr Dyson said he hoped to start selling the mini-cleaner in the UK, where the size of new flats is shrinking fast.

The company, which Mr Dyson owns outright, reported a 32 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £103.1m in the 12 months to 31 December on sales up 18 per cent to £470.4m.

Dyson outsold Hoover in value terms in the US, taking 24 per cent of that market last year. Total export sales rose 44 per cent, the company said. Two new products will be unveiled later this year.

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