De La Rue wins licence to print money

Basingstoke firm is Bank of England's preferred choice to print its new plastic banknotes.

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2014

De La Rue, which took over the Bank of England's printing operation in 2003, has been announced as its preferred choice to print the nation's money for the next 10 years. Shares in the company surged 3.6% to 769 pence after the news.

The tender contract, set to be signed in October, puts the value of the job at £1bn. Details so far are that it will be a polymer-based bank note, the kind used in countries like Canada and Australia.

And this isn't just a gimmick to make the pound more attractive than it seems to be at the moment. For us average bods it means no more losing the odd fiver to a soapy demise in the washing machine, but for the Bank it may mean savings of £100m a year.

The Bank also reckons the notes will last two and half times longer than the current paper-cotton notes, which will appease many environmental concerns (as long as that plastic is recyclable, chaps).

De La Rue, which describes itself as the world’s largest commercial banknote printer, has been producing banknotes since 1860, when it printed the Mauritius £5, £1 and 10 shilling notes. It has since helped pioneer the banknote counting machine and the now ubiquitous ATM, before pioneered a load of security features, such as the clear windows found in recent notes.

The Bank's new polymer notes are set to go into circulation in 2016, with the new fiver featuring Winston Churchill, followed by Jane Austen £10 note the following year. (Recently invented) rumours of a £7 note featuring Ant and Dec have yet to be confirmed. These should not be accepted, nor should any notes circulating with an ultrasound scan of a royal baby or a map of the UK ending at Berwick Upon Tweed.

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