DEFINITION of Dun & Bradstreet - D&B

Dun & Bradstreet is a corporation that offers information on commercial credit as well as reports on businesses. Most notably, Dun & Bradstreet is recognizable for its Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS numbers); these generate business information reports for more than 100 million companies around the globe. Dun & Bradstreet was established as the result of a merger in the 1930s between R.G. Dun & Co. and the Bradstreet Cos.

BREAKING DOWN Dun & Bradstreet - D&B

Dun & Bradstreet has been a foundation for the way businesses function for more than 160 years. The company’s revolutionary DUNS numbers are intricately linked to the categorization of businesses around the world. Dun & Bradstreet offers a number of other products and services and has continued to expanded since its founding. As of 2009, it was a global operator with more than 200 offices globally, including Europe and Latin America. While the majority of Dun & Bradstreet’s products remain in print, the technological age has pushed the company’s products and services onto the internet and beyond.

The History of Dun & Bradstreet

The formation of this company can be linked back to 1841, when Lewis Tappan established the Mercantile Agency in New York City. Tappan handed the reins of the company to Benjamin Douglass in the latter part of the decade. The company was reincorporated under the name R.G. Dun & Co. in 1859 when Robert Graham Dun purchased it. In 1931, the company purchased the National Credit Office and was reorganized, becoming R.G. Dun & Corp.

John Bradstreet formulated and established the Bradstreet Co. in Cincinnati in 1849. The firm published the first-ever book of commercial ratings a few years later, in 1851, and made the use of credit ratings popular. Bradstreet moved his company to New York in 1855.

In 1933, negotiations between the two companies began over the idea of a merger. After one month of discussions, the merger took place. The Wall Street Journal published a notification of the merger and indicated the newly formed company would be operating under the name R.G. Dun-Bradstreet, changed to Dun & Bradstreet Inc. in 1939. As part of a rebranding campaign, the company officially changed its name to D&B in 2001.

Data Universal Numbering System

The DUNS numbering system was introduced by the company in 1963, and started as a seven-digit code assigned to companies as a form of classification. In 1964, D&B published a code book with the individual codes of all the companies that had received them and continued this until 1968. These numbers made an appearance, for the first time, in the Million Dollar Directory in 1969.

As of 2016, the DUNS system is composed of nine digits and is assigned to every business location in the D&B database. Each of the digits has a unique and distinct operation that identifies each specific business. The number itself is assigned randomly.