De La Rue plc (/ˈdɛlə ruː/ or /ˌdɛlə ˈruː/) is a banknote manufacturer, security printing of passports and tax stamps, brand authentication and papermaking company with headquarters in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. It also has a factory on the Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, and other facilities at Loughton, Essex and Bathford, Somerset. There are overseas offices in Kenya, Sri Lanka and Malta. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
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 he secured his business 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 as 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.
In 2003, the company acquired the Debden-based banknote printing operations of the Bank of England.
In 2003 and 2004 the company supplied banknotes to Iraq.
The company was recognized by Hermann Simon as a role model for other small- to medium-sized businesses in his book Hidden Champions.
The Highest Perfection, a history of De La Rue was published in 2011. Written by Peter Pugh for De La Rue, it covered the years 1712-2003.
In August 2014, the company announced the appointment of Martin Sutherland (formerly of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence) as Chief Executive Officer.
In 2016, the Cash Handling division (Cash Processing Systems) was sold to Privet Capital.
In September 2016 The Bank of England issued the new UK five pound note, the first UK note to be printed on polymer.
In December 2016 the company announced it will acquire the DuPont Authentication division.
De La Rue sells high-security paper and printing technology for over 150 national currencies.
De La Rue also produces a wide range of other secure documents, including:Bank cheques
In 1843 De La Rue established its first overseas trade, as de la Rue's brother Paul travelled to Russia to advise on the making of playing cards. Thomas de la Rue's designs for playing cards are the basis for the modern standard design. The playing card business was sold to John Waddington in 1969.
The company has also printed postage stamps for the United Kingdom and some of its colonies, for Italy and for the Confederate States of America. Some famous stamps such as the Cape of Good Hope triangulars were printed by De La Rue & Co. after Perkins Bacon fell out of favour with the postal authorities of the time. The first 50 years of postage stamp production were chronicled in John Easton's The De La Rue History of British and Foreign Postage Stamps 1855-1901 (Faber & Faber, London, 1958).
De La Rue claims to have developed the first practical fountain pen in 1881 and was a leading manufacturer of fountain pens in Britain. Products were marketed under the "Onoto" brand. Production of fountain pens by De La Rue ceased in Britain in 1958 but continued for a few more years in Australia.
During the 1930s De La Rue created a number of board games. These included a cricket game, Stumpz, which was produced in a number of different editions, and Round The Horn, a game which re-created the then annual race of grain-laden, square-rigged sailing cargo ships from Australia to London. The games consisted of high quality components and used playing cards as part of the component set.