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Successful covid start-up Colleague Box celebrate second anniversary

Successful covid start-up Colleague Box celebrate second anniversary

The personalised gifting company set up by a furloughed Derby mum during the first national lockdown is celebrating its second year in business.

Colleague Box has evolved from a small business created in the Spondon living room of Natalie Bamford and her husband Adam, to a global enterprise operating from a 4,500-square feet warehouse in Derby.

Employing local people and with several awards to their name, Colleague Box has expanded its product range by selling flower bouquets – with prices starting from just £26.99 - and was recently given a five-star hygiene rating by Derby City Council, meaning that it can now sell its products on sites including JustEat and UberEats.

Colleague Box is also gearing up for a busy May, with sales of its commemorative boxes to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee selling fast.

CEO Natalie Bamford said:

“I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved with Colleague Box over the past two years. There have been highs – and lows – but Adam and I have a real sense of pride in what we have created.

“The initial brief for Colleague Box was to create a letterbox-friendly gift box full of treats and exciting things that we could personalise, and that would put a smile on people’s faces during what was a difficult time.

“It might sound like an easy ask but, in the middle of a pandemic when you couldn’t just nip to the shop, and we didn’t have suppliers or anything at this point – it was difficult.

“We also had to find something that would fit in a letterbox-sized box, too. Not easy – but we did it, and we have the prototype in a display case at The Smile Factory to remind us of those early days and the Treat Box – one of our first boxes – remains our most popular to this day.”

In its first five months, Colleague Box went on to turn over £1.3m and outgrew its first commercial premises. In late 2021, they moved into a second, bigger property – The Smile Factory - and have a product range of more than 70– including the range of bouquets, with prices starting from £26.99, and a special limited-edition range for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Colleague Box have also collaborated and supported small businesses in Derby and Derbyshire, working with Divine Box, Letterbox Love and Spondon-based Pat-A-Cake bakery, and are committed to several projects which help local good causes.

“It’s our way of giving back and, hopefully in the future, Colleague Box will be in a position to give even more back to charitable organisations,” said Natalie.

“We have partnered with Derby County Community Trust, Safe & Sound, which helps victims of child exploitation and their families, and Food 4 Thought Alliance; a charity that supports people who are experiencing food poverty.

“We’re wanting to do our bit for the planet, too, so have recently partnered with JUST ONE Tree, who plant trees in areas severely affected by deforestation. It’s our way of helping to combat climate change and something that we feel very strongly about.”

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