Taking a healthy nibble into big market

Founder Sara Roberts, who launched the business in 2014 after becoming frustrated with the lack of healthy snack options for people on the go.
Founder Sara Roberts, who launched the business in 2014 after becoming frustrated with the lack of healthy snack options for people on the go.

Loanhead-based vending machine company Healthy Nibbles is set for major expansion thanks to £100,000 from private investors.

The company, which began in June 2014 with its first vending machine taken on by BBC Scotland at its Glasgow HQ, provides 250 premium healthy snacks in its machines, with over 40 per cent from artisan suppliers.

Based at Bilston Glen Industrial Estate with just four staff, the huge investment from eight private investors will see Healthy Nibbles expand in the coming year.

Owner and founder Sara Roberts said: “This really helps us, not just in terms of money but the extra expertise we now have on board.

“It gives us that surrogate board type of feel. Like an advisory panel. We have got people from well-being, some from health care and somebody from one of the products we list in the machines.”

Putting things into perspective Sara added what she hopes this investment can achieve:“There are half a million vending machines in the UK. We have got 11. Which is not very many but we are in discussions for around a couple of hundred,” she said.

“Now we have secured the investment it’s about growing the number of machines of ours out there.

“We are in the process of taking on a modern apprentice. Then there will be more staff, from marketing to logistics, across the board really.

“It’s all very exciting. With things moving so fast now it’s about working out what we need and what we can operate on a sustainable level.”

Never one for standing still Sara added: “We have got lots of goals at the moment, we are trying to get 500,000 machines out next year. Overall we provide 50,000 snacks a month but we want to, in the next 12 months, double that to 100,000 a month.

“We are not short of ambition, there are lots of opportunities out there. We were the first to market health foods in vending machines and we have got a lot of exciting plus points.”

Sara spoke of the difficulty of getting Healthy Nibbles into a sector most would think fits perfectly.

She said:“What we have found is that in a lot of gyms their top selling product is chips believe it or not.

“And for the lower end gyms their margins are so tight. Our machines are very state of the art, so it’s a big cost up front to take them on.

“So the corporate world is where we are looking at the moment. But that’s not to say that we don’t recognise all these other places to go in.”