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Dyson has seen the market share of its trademark bagless vacuum cleaners fall sharply in the UK during the past year, partly because of a consumer backlash against its decision to shift manufacturing to Malaysia.

Dyson sold 15 per cent of all vacuum cleaners in the year to October, down from 20 per cent in the previous 12 months, according to data from GfK, the market research firm. It remains the market leader, but its share is well below its peak of about 40 per cent in the late 1990s.

Focus groups conducted by GfK - whose data are widely followed in the European domestic appliance industry - indicate that consumers have partly turned against James Dyson, its founder, because he moved manufacturing away from Britain.

Nick Platt, a white goods specialist at GfK, said: "The move [to Malaysia] has hurt him an immeasurable amount."

Mr Platt said the company had also been hit by low-cost competitors, which were selling machines for much less than Dyson's premium products, which retail for £200 or more.

In October, Dyson's share of the UK's £530m vacuum cleaner by value was 38 per cent, down from 44 per cent a year before. The value of the market grew by 10 per cent during the year.

Electrolux of Sweden, Glen Dimplex of Ireland and Candy of Italy, which owns Hoover, have eaten into Dyson's market share.

However Mr Dyson said the move to Malaysia had been essential to help his company stay in business. He said it had given Dyson the chance to push up research and development spending and bring out the innovative products necessary to compete with industry giants.

Dyson said it was "not worried" by the GfK figures because they were influenced by "secondary" purchases of cleaners for use in second homes. "By value, Dyson sells four times more vacuum cleaners in the UK than our nearest rival, which we think is a key point," Dyson said.

From FT.com

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