Sir James Dyson’s farming empire raked in £30m last year even as it warned that income had been hit by “extreme weather conditions”.
The Brexit-supporting inventor is best known for his bagless vacuum cleaner which he spent five years developing in the early 1980s before it became a worldwide hit.
But he also owns a farming business producing wheat, peas, potatoes, maize and other foods across 35,000 acres of Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset.
Accounts published last week, for the year ending December 31 2020, show the company made sales of £30.2m, with pre-tax profit of £2.2m. Profit was slightly down on the previous year, when it made £3.4m on sales of £28.3m. 2020 was one of the warmest and wettest years on record in the UK.
“Farming continues to be the company’s principal business activity, and its exposure to the extreme weather conditions during the year has reduced potential incomes and added costs,” the company says.
“Cropping is being developed to include higher value crops and potential opportunities being investigated to sell direct to the consumer increasing margin.”
The business also has two anaerobic digesters which turn waste and energy crops into enough electricity to power the equivalent of 10,000 homes.
One of these also warms a 15-acre glasshouse where Dyson Farming grows British strawberries out of season.
“Energy sales are a valuable source of diversification and turnover from this source reached a mature state in 2020,” it added. “The development of a glasshouse linked to the anaerobic digestion plant completed in 2020 will further diversify revenues in 2021.”
Brexit backer Sir James abandoned plans to develop an electric car in 2019 after several years of development, saying it was not commercially viable.
In 2020 he appeared open to a return to the project, however, telling Autocar magazine: “We only go into markets if we’re convinced we have a good idea.
“But if we thought we had the idea and the technology to make a difference, we’d do it. Or certainly consider it. “Transport interests me: this is not an end to Dyson’s interest in mobility.”