A COMPANY founded on sending gift boxes of Lancashire love around the country is hoping to switch premises from a bedroom to an industrial unit. Everything from local beers to biscuits, cheeses to cordial, sauces to soap is hand-packed inside The Lancashire Gift Company’s bespoke boxes. At last year’s Rossendale Business Awards, the company, based in Waterfoot, won the Part-Time Trophy.
Managing Director Barbara Eastwood, a former teacher, is helped in the business by consultancy owner and friend Hazel Cridford. Barbara said: “You are never too old to try something new. All I had ever known was teaching but there is life after the classroom.”
While searching for a present for friends, who lived elsewhere, Barbara came up with the idea of sending them some ‘Northern love’ and searched for a gift box with locally-made produce. When her search proved unsuccessful, she created her own and in October 2019, the business was launched.
She said: “The first Christmas was very busy, January and February 2020 was slower but then, as the pandemic and lockdowns took hold, our online business took off because people were not able to get to the shops. We picked up contracts and big corporate clients asking for 50 or 80, 100 or 300 gift boxes and we have just had an inquiry for 800. Getting contracts makes it easier for us to know what we need to order and it makes packing easier, but we also needed bigger premises. Quite quickly, the business has got larger than I ever expected.”
The company still provides bespoke individual orders, and often find recipients turn into future customers as they pass on ‘Northern love’ to their friends. When the company was nominated for an award, it came as a complete shock. She said: “It was great to be nominated, we were delighted to be named as a finalist and shocked to win. It did raise our profile and we got an increase in orders.”
The company is looking to take on ad hoc staff to honour seasonal orders over Christmas as last year was all hands to the pump so that every order was honoured. Barbara added: “We have been approached about making a Cumbria gift box and I can certainly see the potential in the business model being extended to other regions. What is important to us is retaining the personal touch, the careful hand-packing of each box, using good quality local produce and using as much recycled or biodegradable materials as possible. We will also box up gifts in the client’s own branded packaging. We are always looking for new local suppliers and manufacturers to get in contact so we can extend the range of items we provide in the boxes. Food and drink products must have a good shelf life.”
Story By Catherine Smyth Media