The company was founded by Thomas de la Rue who moved to London in 1821 and set up in business as a stationer and printer. Working as a "boy of the streets", in 1831 his business secured a Royal Warrant to produce playing cards, in 1855 it started printing postage stamps and in 1860 it began printing banknotes. In 1896, the family partnership was converted to a private company.
In 1921, the de la Rue family sold their interests. It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1947. The Company, then called Thomas De La Rue & Company, Limited, changed its name in 1958 to The De La Rue Company Limited. A takeover bid for De La Rue was made by the Rank Organisation plc in 1968 but this was rejected by the Monopolies commission as being against the public interest. In 1991 the company’s name was changed again - this time to De La Rue plc.
In 1995, the company acquired Portals Limited from the Portal family. For almost 300 years Portals had been regarded the leading banknote paper manufacturer in the world, having manufactured banknote paper for the Bank of England since 1724.
In 1997, De La Rue acquired Harrison and Sons, the stamp and banknote printers, based in High Wycombe. Harrisons had made significant inroads into De La Rue's banknote printing operations.
In 2003, the company acquired the Debden based banknote printing operations of the Bank of England.
The company was recognized by Hermann Simon as a role model for other small to medium sized business in his book Hidden Champions.
Read more about this topic: De La Rue
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