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Happily for millions of British householders Sir James Dyson, inventor of the ballbarrow and the sea truck, turned his attention to vacuum cleaners in the 1970s. By 1993 he had set up his own company, research centre and factory in Wiltshire. His range of cleaners based on cyclone technology now dominates the market across much of the world, outselling the products of companies that turned down his original design. In March, Dyson secured a refinancing that reportedly put around £150m into his pocket ahead of the government’s planned changes to capital gains tax. Sales were £514.7m in 2006.

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Company details
ActivityAppliance manufacturer
Sales £m514.7
Operating profit £m82.8
Main shareholdersSir James Dyson and family (100%)

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* supplied by company   † annualised figure   ‡  profit = ebitda