The husband and wife team behind the Colleague Box gift service celebrates £ 1million in lockdown sales

A husband and wife team that launched a personalized gift box service for workers during the lockdown is approaching its 100,000th sale.

Natalie and Adam Bamford started Colleague Box, a letterbox gift business, when the coronavirus pandemic was at its peak.

The boxes are aimed at bosses and colleagues who want to put a smile on team members back in the office or on leave.

The couple, from Spondon, to Derby, said the business has proven to be a huge success, grossing over £ 1million in its first five months.

Customers can choose from a variety of packages, including craft beer boxes, “ultimate” chocolate boxes, summer picnic boxes, and movie night sharing boxes.

Each comes with the company branding and personalized message and although they have been popular with businesses hosting their colleagues, the gift sets have also been a huge hit for special occasions – the gin box holds two bottles. Gordon’s Gin miniatures, tonic water, plus Green & Black’s Chocolate and Appetizers, which might be perfect for a Friday night Zoom catch-up.

Colleague Box recently expanded their range – including an escape room-style puzzle box to enjoy at home, with two who-dun-it themes and a choice of craft beers, miniature prosecco or soft drinks, crisps. , nuts and chocolate bags. , candy and popcorn.

Natalie, who founded the Derby Days Out event listings website for parents and caregivers in 2015 and sold it three years later, said they are now preparing to move into a larger warehouse that will help welcome its growing staff. The permanent team is now five but the company has also recruited temporary workers from the University of Derby.

She said: “The new location, at the Northedge Business Park, in Derby is a new, modern unit and we have been using warehouse space there since December – in addition to our smaller warehouse in Sawley Park – to keep up with the demand for our boxes, especially around Christmas.

“There’s a lot more office space out there, that’s exactly what we need, and we’re excited to move in.

“We installed new flooring in the same color as our logo and also ordered new signs for the location. It is the ideal place to continue to develop the Colleague Box brand.

“It’s amazing to think that 12 months ago Colleague Box was just an idea we had for employers to stay in touch with staff on leave or working remotely due to the first lockdown. coronavirus.

“I too was put on leave and together with Adam we took the original idea of ​​Colleague Box and turned it into what you see today, initially working from our kitchen table. “

The gin box

There are now over 40 different Colleague Boxes available for purchase on their website which she says are suitable for occasions ranging from virtual quiz nights to award ceremonies.

Sports enthusiasts Natalie and Adam sponsored Billy Stanlake of Derbyshire County Cricket Club for the upcoming season and recently became one of some 87,000 UK food companies to sign up for Too Good To Go, an app that allows businesses to sell excess inventory directly to consumers to help them. reduce waste.

They also donate their excess inventory to Derby charities including Derby City Mission, Doorways, Safe and Sound and Macmillan.

Adam said, “The way people use the Colleague Box is so innovative.

“We love it when the phone rings and this is a company that wants to do something completely personalized. We also like to be completely flexible when it comes to content and working with companies to create their own bespoke box, even providing them with branded merchandise.

“There were challenges – we are a family and had to endure months of home schooling for our children, which was a balancing act.

“However, we are well positioned to move the business forward after the pandemic and have worked with several local independent small businesses – including, the Divine Box beauty company – another Covid success story – and Mr. Shaw; a Derby-based clothing company – to ensure that Colleague Box is constantly evolving.

Michael N. Clark