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Canadian robot vacuum company to open Henderson plant

A Toronto-based competitor to robot vacuum cleaner Roomba will open its first North American manufacturing operation in Henderson.

The exact date for when Bobsweep’s manufacturing starts isn’t set, but hiring will start during the summer, company spokesman Robert Saadeh said.

Bobsweep now has about 10 people at its 50,000-square-foot Henderson site. It will hire at least 10 more to staff the manufacturing side, Saadeh said.

“We hope to start manufacturing this year,” he said.

The company now distributes from its Henderson office, near Sunset Road and Mountain Vista Street. The office was attractive for distribution because of the area’s low cost of living and low crime rate, Saadeh said.

“It seemed like a nice place,” he said. “Opening a manufacturing operation alongside distribution made sense.”

The company has locations in Vancouver and California. Bobsweep has been manufacturing its vaccuums in China. But the timing is right to open a plant in the U.S., Saadeh said.

People interested in applying for jobs can email jointheteam@bobsweep.com.

Robot vacuum demand grows

Bobsweep is one of several emerging competitors to Roomba, said Ben Rose, president of equity research firm Battle Road. Rose’s firm covers Roomba’s publicly trader maker, iRobot, based in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Bobsweep has gained traction on Amazon.com but has not yet challenged Roomba within brick-and-mortar stores, Rose said.

In a 2014 blog post, Rose wrote that iRobot’s estimated market share exceeded 60 percent worldwide, and the company has sold more than 9 million Roombas since shipping began in 2002.

In April, iRobot issued a statement saying it has filed patent infringement suits against multiple competitors, including Bobsweep, Hoover and Black &Decker, along with their Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, iRobot reported a 28 percent increase in the number of robots shipped in the quarter that ended April 1 compared to the same quarter last year. It shipped 704,000 robots during the most recent quarter.

That increase in robots shipped, plus an increase in sales for the higher-priced Roomba 900, translated into a $40.6 million increase in consumer business revenue during the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter last year, according to the filing.

About $22 million of that increase came from domestic revenue and the rest from revenue overseas.

Bobsweep is a very small player in the robot vacuum market, said Mark Strouse, a JPMorgan analyst who covers iRobot. But the market is growing so quickly, Bobsweep is still a company to watch, Strouse said.

“That might be a good story to pay attention to, assuming they can potentially capture some share,” he said.

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at wmillward@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4602. Follow @wademillward on Twitter.

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