Max Gort-Barten the founder of Dualit was born in Germany in 1914. Max’s father was also an inventor and the family produced acetate wallets in a factory behind their house. Max found himself in England as WWII broke out. After 5 years in the army, he bought a factory in Camberwell with the intention of manufacturing one of his many inventions, the first of which was a cocktail shaker. Next was a heater with a dual function element and a light, named the ‘Dual Light heater’ from which the company’s name was born. His first successful product was the flip-sided toaster, patented in 1946.
In 1952 Max designed a new commercial six-slot toaster with a mechanical timer and manual eject lever to keep the toast warm until needed. Residents of Picton Street and the entire Gort-Barten family were involved in its production. In 1954 the Government compulsory-purchased the factory and gave Max money to build a new factory on the Old Kent Road.
The design and engineering of the toaster evolved and a slot selector switch was added so the user could choose how many slots heated up. Sandwich toasters (with larger slots to fit a sandwich cage) and Bun toasters (which toast one side only) were added to the collection along with a ‘hot toast cupboard’ to keep toast warm. In 1964 a waffle iron was added to the range. The Dualit toaster became a ubiquitous part of commercial kitchens all over the UK, even making it on-board the QE2.
Dualit toasters started to appear in John Lewis, Fortnum & Mason and Harrods. A three-slot version was made specifically for John Lewis. In 1974 Max stepped down as Managing Director and Leslie joined the business. By the late ’70s Dualit had employed a Royal College of Art design graduate and the toaster’s enhanced styling subsequently gave it a bigger presence in retail outlets.
Government export grants encouraged Dualit to attend European trade shows. Demand from foreign distributors, coupled with the ’80s trend for commercial kitchen appliances, saw demand quadruple overnight and the factory was extended to increase capacity. New products included the Combi Toaster and sandwich cage, along with Dualit’s first ground coffee machines. In 1989 Max was awarded the CBE for services to the British manufacturing industry.
Dualit launched its first kettle, with cordless operation and a 360° swivel base. They would become some of Dualit’s most successful products. A range of products designed for professional use in bars, including an ice crusher, drinks mixer and blender also launched. In 1999 Max and Leslie exploited Space Shuttle technology to develop the Proheat element. It won the company a Millennium award.
In 2003, the same year that Max Gort-Barten died, the company outgrew its original home in the Old Kent Road and moved to new premises in Crawley, West Sussex. The launch of new countertop products continued in the 2000s: with the first Dualit Food Processor in 2007, DAB radios (2006 & 2008) and a new model of toaster, called the Lite. In addition to a new semi-automatic espresso maker early in the decade, Dualit launched the Espressivo Coffee Machine in 2008. Giving customers the option of using ground coffee or handy ESE coffee pods, the Espressivo paved the way for Dualit’s current range of multi-brew machines. The NewGen Classic Toaster launched in 2009, incorporating a bagel toasting feature into its design.
Dualit launched its first coffee machines that used capsules to make coffee. Coffee continued to be at the forefront of Dualit’s product development when it saw an opportunity to develop coffee capsules that would work in Nespresso®*’s range of capsule machines.
Dualit opened its own capsule production plant in 2013, putting its engineering experience into developing a patented range of coffee capsules compatible with both Dualit coffee machines and Nespresso® machines. High street retailers and supermarkets began stocking the capsules, giving customers a choice of where to purchase.
Dualit expanded it’s other core product ranges, launching the Architect Kettles and Toasters in 2012, Studio by Dualit in 2016 and the Domus kettle and toaster range in 2017, offering customer a wider choice of styles and price points.
*Nespresso trademark is owned by Societe des Produits Nestlé S.A.
Consumer and commercial markets will continue to be equally important, with the company’s reputation amongst professional chefs one of the main reasons why consumers choose Dualit. There will be a constant cycle of new product development, but ideas will only see the light of day if they can demonstrate true Dualit brand values – no frills, no gimmicks, just innovative, well-engineered solutions.
The Dualit Ethos
No frills. No gimmicks. No compromise. It must be Dualit.
Dualit’s success lies in a single-minded vision for the company and its products which hasn’t changed since Max Gort-Barten started the company back in the 1940s. The company’s ethos can be summed up in these guiding principles:
Inspired by invention, entrepreneurship, and gut instinct.
Dualit continues to grow by following its instincts, by identifying what its customers need, by fulfilling that need and by exceeding their expectations.
Focused on high quality, well-engineered products.
New products are designed and engineered against stringent quality criteria, occasionally re-engineered and often enhanced, then tested to destruction, before they earn a Dualit badge. And they can only keep that badge if all elements of the manufacturing process pass Dualit’s stringent quality control process.
Independently owned, with hands-on family involvement.
Without this independence and control, and the continuing involvement of the Gort-Barten family, Dualit would undoubtedly have lost some of its vision and passion over the last 70 years. It is this independence that enables it to forge its own path.
Proud of its hard-won reputation in the catering industry, and clients don’t come any tougher than professional chefs.
Its roots in commercial restaurants and hotels give Dualit the best possible credentials in any kitchen. This results in products that are built to last, where performance comes first and reliability is an integral part of their design.
Committed to its family-oriented workforce, with many second generation employees.
Some of Dualit’s employees have been with the company for more than 30 years. This often includes more than one member of the same family and even spans the generations. The company values, trusts and rewards its employees, and their loyalty helps Dualit create great products.
Synonymous with customer service.
From its comprehensive ‘spares & repairs’ service to constant monitoring of consumer feedback and the loyalty benefits offered by Café Club, customer service is a number one priority. No gimmicks. No compromise. Just great customer service. It must be Dualit.
Lots of companies talk about quality; for Dualit it is a fundamental part of the business. Our Quality Policy exists to provide employees and suppliers with a framework that ensures they deliver our promises to customers, whether product or service related. Its success is a consequence of several key factors – a continuous process of monitoring and improvement, senior management ‘champions’, supplier relationships that work as true partnerships, and employees who often ‘go the extra mile’ for the benefit of their customers.
Our Customers have high expectations concerning our Ethical Standards and we need to ensure we can live up to those expectations. For this reason Dualit have implemented an Ethical Sourcing Procedure which is based on international standards such as the conventions of the International Labour Organisation. We regularly visit our Suppliers and conduct Site Inspections & Audits to ensure their compliance to our standards.
Dualit is aware of its environmental responsibilities and we have implemented Procedures to prevent pollution, minimise waste, reduce our emissions and manage risks and hazards. We are working to reduce the energy consumption of our products and we actively encourage recycling both of our own waste and that of our customers with the aim of reducing the amount going into landfill.