At the end of the First World War, a long-established firm of varnish makers, set up by the Naylor brothers, opened a factory on a 30-acre site in Slough. After a disasterous attempt to enter the wallpaper industry, they joined forces with Nobel Chemical Finishes, who – inspired by DuPont in the US – were exploring new paint processes and finishes. The two companies joined forces and overcame the challenges of Britain’s industrial depression, providing employees and their families with food as well as an income. This helped build a reputation for being one of the best companies in the country to work for.
In 1931, the Naylors, with the help of talented chemist H.H. Morgan, launched their first durable alkyd-based paint, based on the DuPont formulations, under the name ‘DuLux’ – a blend of ‘DuPont’ and ‘Luxury’. Initially, decorators were sceptical: how could something so easy to use last as long as its lead-based counterparts? But success quickly followed and, by the time the company had joined forces with ICI at the end of the decade, it employed 33,000 people and had achieved sales over £27 million.
Although the factory was bombed twice between 1939 and 1945, and production pretty much ceased, the Second World War played a key role in the brand’s success. People noticed that buildings decorated with Dulux before the war looked 10 times better than those painted with any other product. Within four years, Dulux had become the country’s leading paint brand.