Dyson is to cut 900 jobs around the world, two-thirds of which are in the UK, in response to what the appliances maker said were shifting customer habits resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
The axe will mostly fall on staff in retail and customer service, with the proposed redundancies affecting about 6 per cent of the company’s global workforce of 14,000.
Dyson said that demand “remained strong” for its products, which range from floor cleaners and air purifiers to hair dryers and lighting, but the way people were buying them had altered.
“The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated changes in consumer behaviour and therefore requires changes in how we engage with our customers and how we sell our products. We are evolving our organisation and reflecting these changes to make us faster, more agile, and better able to grow sustainably,” the company said.
“We are fully supporting those who are impacted, finding alternative roles where possible.”
Some of the posts are expected to be outsourced but the privately owned business did not say how many of these roles would be available for the employees affected by the job cuts.
While the redundancies will affect Dyson employees who sell its products in other retailers’ premises, such as department stores, jobs at its own outlets around the world are not at risk. These include locations such as the Opera district of Paris, London’s Oxford Street and Fifth Avenue in New York, as well as sites throughout Asia.
Dyson employs about 4,000 people in the UK and its founder, Sir James, is among the richest Britons.
The engineering group this year spent £20m developing a ventilator for treating coronavirus patients after responding to a call from the UK government for industry to help plug an expected shortfall. However, its device did not ultimately go into production because of reduced demand.
Dyson said it had not put any employees on furlough or drawn on public money to support jobs during the Covid-19 crisis.
The restructuring by a company that has grown rapidly in recent years to reach annual turnover of £4.4bn in 2018 underlines the impact on business of the virus, which has forced more retail sales online with people stuck at home during lockdowns.
UK high street stalwart Marks and Spencer announced this week it would cut 950 jobs, following recent reductions by department chain store John Lewis and pharmacy Boots.
By contrast, parcel couriers such as DPD and Hermes are recruiting extra workers to cope with the rise in internet shopping.
Dyson courted controversy last year over a decision to relocate its headquarters from Wiltshire to Singapore, where it was planning to manufacture an electric vehicle before ditching the project.
At the time, it said the move was not because of Brexit, or tax reasons, and that only two senior executives would move as a result. Months beforehand, the company had outsourced at least 100 UK back office roles overseas.