22 Oct 2019 | 04.01 pm
Paddy Box Delivers Taste Of Home
Mark Loftus taps emigrants' food nostalgia
22 Oct 2019 | 04.01 pm
Mark Loftus hit on a simple but effective idea to tap the nostalgia of Irish emigrants, and he’s expecting a busy Christmas season. He’s the founder of Paddy Box, a hamper business that lets customers send boxes of Irish food staples to friends and loved ones abroad.
The boxes are themed around Irish breakfasts, snacks, retro sweets, birthdays and sports, and are filled with familiar brands like Clonakilty, Tayto, Jacob’s, Cadbury, Butlers and Barry’s Tea.
Ranging in price from €35 to €50, the hampers are a taste of Ireland for those living abroad. Custom boxes can also be assembled, while Loftus (32) periodically expands the range to include other themed hampers. The most recent addition is the ‘Mammy Box’, which contains Irish baby products for new mothers. Loftus sources most of the products direct from the manufacturers or from Musgrave, then packs them up and ships them overseas via DHL.
Certain brands always make it into the customised boxes, says Loftus (pictured). “Every single one has packets of Tayto. Old-school sweets like Wham and Refresher bars are also popular, as are Cadbury and Ballymaloe products. Barry’s Tea also trumps Lyons by a fair bit.”
Since launching in 2017, Loftus estimates that more than 10,000 Paddy Boxes have been sent to 100 countries worldwide. The simplicity of the business model means little in the way of overheads and Loftus’s venture has been profitable from year one.
Loftus says he’s now mulling options for scaling Paddy Box, which include targeting the corporate gift market. Health-focused hamper options are also being explored, as are alcohol-themed boxes. “We introduced a Christmas box last year but we’ll make it more gift-focused this year, with decorations and non-food gift options,” he says.
Loftus can turn to his parents for help on the strategising. They are shareholders in the business and are involved in the day-to-day operations. Dad Michael Loftus is a former Citibank executive, while Geraldine Loftus previously worked in logistics in a chemical company. “They both have big roles in Paddy Box, helping to oversee a lot of the operations side of things,” says the younger Loftus.
The company uses An Post and DHL for parcel deliveries. “We can do next-day delivery in the UK, the US and the EU. For places further afield, we can deliver within three working days. I’ve spoken at a few DHL departmental gatherings and the company has promoted us a lot through their own corporate media channels.”
Loftus is also a shareholder in a company called European Digital Media Concepts, an Enterprise Ireland client. The business is described by Loftus as “stop and start” – it’s a fundraising platform using interactive technology that is being pitched at TV and production companies, primarily in the UK. Loftus also runs a small events company, organising parties for students in venues around Dublin. He adds that Paddy Box is his main focus at present.
“Apart from the owners, the business employs up to 10 staff part-time during busy times. We started it off on a kitchen table in my mother’s house in Portmarnock but we’re growing quickly. Business is up by about 40% this year and Christmas is looking like it’s going to be very busy.”