Our story

Founded in 1956, The Belgian has a strong tradition of crafting some of the world’s most exquisite chocolates. It is also a testimony to the treasured legacy of its founders, Walter and Renée Gartner. Their love for each other and shared passion to create the finest chocolate led to a bond that is still felt throughout the company today:

Coupling the best ingredients with the finest craftsmanship, to sweeten the hearts of people around the world.


In the 1950s, Walter Gartner was a supplier of cookies and had various bakeries as his clients. Walter frequently received requests asking if he could also offer chocolate products. As an entrepreneur, Walter saw this as an opportunity and a gap in the market.

In their home in Mortsel, he and Renée began making artisanal pralines. This led Walter and Renée to establish Gartner Pralines in 1956.

They started with a standard praline that immediately appealed to both bakers and consumers. To expand their range, they created pralines with summer and winter fillings.

"The house where the lights were never switched off"

They sold the pralines at a rapid pace to bakers, and the demand for a wider assortment continued to grow. Therefore, the couple got back to work with recipes and once again developed the most flavorful pralines.

Meanwhile, their home in Mortsel became known as "The house where the lights were never switched off" because Walter and Renée worked day and night to fulfill the orders.


In 1978, Gartner Pralines acquired its first international client, the renowned London department store Harrods. The pralines made by Walter and Renée captured everyone's heart in London as well.

To manage everything effectively, they relocated their production to a larger facility in Borsbeek, which also resulted in additional employment opportunities in the region. They employed a remarkable 50 employees.

The Belgian

In 1988, Walter and Renée wanted to enjoy their well-deserved retirement. Their daughters Veerle and Karin had other passions in life, so Walter and Renée began searching for a potential buyer.

In 1989, the praline company was acquired by the English company Thorntons. However, Marc Pauwels, wanting to preserve the Belgian identity of the brand, bought back the company in 1998.

Initially, production resumed in the original building in Borsbeek. To establish the brand's global presence, it was named The Belgian. Production was increased and relocated to a larger production facility in Herentals.


In 2023, The Belgian is sold in more than 100 different countries and offers an extensive range of chocolate products, including pralines, seashells, bars, powdered truffles, flake truffles, hearts, squares, NSA assortment, and Organic assortment.

The company currently has 2 locations: Olen and Herentals, both situated in Belgium.

The 160 employees strive every day to maintain the high quality of the chocolate products. We not only value quality but also prioritize sustainability.

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