Sir James Dyson ranks second wealthiest in Sunday Times Rich List with £23 billion fortune

Sir James Dyson is best known for inventing the world's first bagless vacuum cleaner and founding his own company ‘Dyson’.
Sir James Dyson is best known for inventing the world's first bagless vacuum cleaner. Credit: PA

Sir James Dyson is the richest person in the West Country, according to the new edition of The Sunday Times Rich List.

With a family fortune of £23 billion up £6.7 billion on 2021, 75-year-old inventor Sir James Dyson has become the second richest person in the UK, behind London-based brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja, now worth a record £28.472 billion.

The Dyson Group, based in Malmesbury in Wiltshire, had a record year in 2021 with profits of £1.5 billion on sales of more than £6 billion - raising its value from £14.5 billion to £21 billion.

Who is Sir James Dyson?

He was born in Norfolk in 1947 and studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art and the Royal College of Art.

He then went on to work in Bath to help create a flat-bottomed fiberglass landing craft called the 'Sea Truck.'

He later produced the Ballbarrow in 1974; a plastic bin shaped like a wheelbarrow which moved by rolling on a ball.

Sir James came from humble beginnings. Credit: PA

A few years later, after observing the industrial dust extractor in his factory, he thought about scaling it down into a domestic product.

He then started to design his concept using just cardboard and sticky tape – an idea which eventually spawned into the Dyson vacuum.

How did he grow his wealth?

The inventor and entrepreneur sold a product known as G-Force to Japan where it became a commercial success and won a design prize in 1991.

He then opened a plant in Wiltshire in 1993 and his Dual Cyclone produce became the top-selling vacuum-cleaner within two years.

Dyson products were made in Wiltshire until 2002 before moving to Malaysia. The company has also made hairdryers, fans, and lights and has 14,000 employees worldwide.

The growth of his company is unprecedented in the South West; Dyson recorded a net profit of £1.5 billion in 2021 and he is reported to be the UK’s biggest farmer as he owns large plots of land, including across Gloucestershire.

Inventor Sir James Dyson with his knighthood that he received at Investiture at Buckingham Palace, London Credit: PA

Who else from the West Country made the list?

  • Sir James Dyson and family: £16.7bn (up £6.7bn) - household goods and technology

  • John Christodoulou: £2.35bn (up £350m) - property

  • Chris and Sarah Dawson: £2.25bn (up £200m) - discount stores

  • Peter Hargreaves - £2.068bn (down £342m) - finance

  • Stephen Fitzpatrick: £1.34bn (up £665m) - transport and energy

  • Steve Lansdown: £1.237bn (down £128m) - finance

  • Sir David McMurty: £1.13bn (down £650m) - engineering

  • Christina Ong and family: £1.089bn (up £89m) - retailing and hotels

  • Ursula Bechtolsheimer-Kipp and family: £1.007bn (up £7m) - inheritance and hotels

  • The Vestey family: £716m (down £1m) - meat

Belfast-born Stephen Fitzpatrick has become the South West's ninth billionaire, worth £1.34 billion. He boosted his personal wealth by £665 million after the New York float of his Bristol-based flying taxi venture Vertical Aerospace. Fitzpatrick's wealth includes a £603 million stake in Ovo Energy, also based in Bristol.

Husband and wife Chris, 70, and Jersey resident Sarah Dawson, owner of the Plymouth-based discount store chain The Range, share a fortune of £2.25 billion, up £200 million on last year.

Dublin-born Sir David McMurtry, 82, has seen his wealth drop by £650 million in a year to £1.13 billion, after profits slumped at Renishaw, the Gloucestershire engineering business he co-founded.