The lockdown has been depressing for us all and, despite an imminent vaccine, there is no end in sight. But, happily, there is some good news and that includes a few go ahead initiatives in Belgium that have emerged during the confinement. At a time of many business closures, this includes the creation of a brand new Belgian company.
Called “The Party Box”, it revolves around the preparation and distribution of boxes of Belgian cocktails, aperitifs and festive celebrations. This, it is hoped, may help the many people who can no longer get together over the holidays. Several private individuals and companies have become customers in record time (less than three months since the business was started) and the company has had to adapt to being able to process large orders and thousands of ‘boxes’ from a wide range of big name customers.
These include NATO, Proximus, Touring, ING, SEB, PWC, Securitas, FINTRO, FEB-VBO and the European Commission. The company was started by Liam Guillou, a young 21-year-old KU Leuven student. He explained how it has taken off remarkably quickly.
Liam explains: “It all started when a financial security company asked us to prepare 4,500 boxes for their annual international end-of-year celebrations. We prepared the Party Boxes for them but the concept has really taken off big time since then.” There are also three gold bills in three separate boxes for an added surprise for the lucky finder.
Liam added, “The idea is based on the Willy Wonka Charlie chocolate factory and the Chocolate factory.” He added, ”We have set up a “Pop-Up Workshop” at the Sheraton Brussels Airport which gave us their ballroom so that we could prepare everything according to the strict standards of social distancing in force. “We employ 20 students, who lost their student jobs in the hospitality industry, and who help us all week packing and preparing the boxes.”
The number of student jobs available in Belgium this summer was down by a third, according to analysis from the National Social Security Office (ONSS). Nearly 90,000 fewer students were employed in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Most of the decline comes from the hotel and catering sector. For the jobs that did exist, the number of hours worked was also in decline.
The Party Box has become such a success that DHL now sends the boxes worldwide to Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, New York, Dubai and all over Europe. Around 2,000 boxes will be delivered throughout Belgium. The organisers have included Belgian products in the boxes such as tonic, Belgian chocolates, packaging material and shakers. The packaging material is all from a Belgian supplier.