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Max Gort-Barten was a German-born entrepreneur who found himself
in England - and therefore signed up to the British army - just as
the second World War broke out. When the war was over he bought a
small factory in Camberwell in the absolute certainty that he would
utilise his engineering skills and creativity to manufacture
products. He had several early ideas, including the Dual-Light
electric fire from which Dualit took its name, but it was a
patented toaster that caught people's attention.
An astute businessman, Max decided not to compete head to head
emerging consumer brands but instead focused on the commercial
market. He designed and engineered a six-slice toaster with a
built-in timer (the first of its kind) in 1952, which bears a
striking resemblance to today's Vario toaster. The company grew
slowly over the next 20 years, gradually improving and extending
its range of commercial toasters and adding other related
Find out more about our 70th
Anniversary this year.
Everything started to change in the '70s. Max's son Leslie
joined the business. A Government-sponsored design grant gave
Dualit the opportunity to employ a Royal College of Art design
graduate. Export incentives prompted Leslie and Max to exhibit at
foreign trade shows. And consumer demand for professional kitchen
appliances led retailers like John Lewis to stock Dualit
When the Dualit toaster became the must-have kitchen appliance
of the '80s, the company was swamped by an insatiable demand. It
was forced to extend the factory twice over and find ways of
increasing its manufacturing capacity.
Today Dualit produces a range of kitchen and home appliances
which remain firmly rooted in the values Max set out for the
company in 1945. It is run by Max's son, Leslie and is one of a
handful of successful, independently-owned British manufacturers.
Reliable, well-engineered products remain at the heart of the
company and there is an instantly recognisable - and now
nostalgically retro - Dualit aesthetic which can be traced back to
Max's first toaster designs in the 1950s.
One constant - an ability to embrace change - has seen the
company revolutionise its manufacturing capability without
compromising on quality and reliability. The innovative,
entrepreneurial spirit that was so much a part of Max, is echoed in
Leslie and now his son Alex who sit firmly in the product
development driving seat.