When an injury left Bal Sandher bedridden for six months in 2008, the 22-year-old biomedical science graduate decided to fulfil a lifelong ambition of starting a business: “I had nothing but time, so I taught myself everything, from building a website to marketing,” he says.

He sourced a popular hangover cure from Ireland and began selling it online. One product swiftly became 50 and then Sandher pivoted the business to become a contract manufacturer of sports supplements and nutrition. Nutra Direct is now a £20 million turnover business, manufacturing a wide range of supplements, with gummies, plant-based meat, and international expansion coming this year. “My ambition to grow is relentless,” he says.

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We are doing things that no one else is doing. We have created a system that offers completely bespoke development to our customers.”

Bal Sandher
Founder, Nutra Direct


How have you grown this business?

I started the business with £1,200 in savings and that’s all the external capital we’ve had. All our growth has come from word of mouth referrals. We only appointed our first sales representative in 2021. We have pivoted to become a manufacturer. We have moved facility nine times. We made our first tablet in 2018 and we’ll produce eight billion this year. We make the products you see in multiple major retailers.

How important is innovation to your business?

We are doing things that no one else is doing. Take our gummies. So many brands are unhappy with the gummies they source from China. They taste bad and lead times are too long. We have created a system that offers completely bespoke development. For the first time, customers can have innovative delivery methods, or different colours within the same gummy.

How big could this get?

We are scaling fast in a tricky industry and expect to be a £50 million business within three years. In manufacturing, you spend £2 million on a facility and then two years later, you have to tear it down and start again. You need more machines and people and space constantly – but I love it.