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A bloke who once earned just £70 a week working in a gym now runs a £200 million ($271 million) company.
Alan Barratt had an interest in fitness from a very young age - first entering a gym when he was just 14-years-old completely unaware that he would go on to be founder of one of the biggest nutrition brands in the world.
Despite being bright and doing well at school, he found school a ‘bit boring’ and decided to drop out and go straight to work, taking a job at his local gym.
Alan, 45, told LADbible: “I was always fairly academic at school, but I was probably quite lazy and found it a bit boring - I hated school.
“I stayed on to do A Levels, because that’s what was expected of me, but I dropped out after 12 months, because I was bunking off constantly to go to the gym. The gym couldn’t get rid of me, I was nagging them constantly to give me a job.
“And from the age of 17, I did actually start working in a gym on £70-a-week - it worked out at about £2 an hour, it was all they could afford to pay me and I loved it! I did it for about four years.
“I then moved to another gym, for £100 a week, which I enjoyed as well.”
In 1999, Alan decided to set up his own distribution business, importing health supplements from the US to sell in the UK - but ten years later, he sold the business after deciding he wanted to do it himself.
He explained: “I was very interested in the area of weight loss, so I came up with my own weight loss formula - in a capsule format - and then I sat on it for two years, because I wanted to figure out how to brand it and make it stand out on the shelf.
“I gave some of these capsules to a friend of mine who was training for special forces and I rang him and asked him what he thought and he said, ‘I felt like I’d swallowed a grenade’.”
And so Alan’s business now had a name - Grenade - with a product, a name and a uniquely designed grenade shaped bottle, Alan and his wife launched the brand in 2010.
He explained “We launched in 2010 - with £500 and not really knowing what we were doing - from our spare bedroom. And we sort of thought we’d put it out and everyone would go, ‘wow, you’re so clever, that’s amazing’ and they didn’t…”
With social media a very different place back then, it was down to Alan and his wife Juliet to get the word out there about the new brand, which they did by lending a tank from a pal and rocking up to Body Power in the NEC in May 2010 - well, that’s one way of doing it.
This dramatic entrance into the market was followed by years of hard work, with neither Alan nor Juliet taking a day off or taking a salary in four years - but it paid off and by 2014 Grenade was valued at an impressive £35 million.
In 2015, Grenade launched a range of protein bars, which went on to become not only the best selling protein bar in the UK but one of the best selling chocolate bars in the country, too.
Alan said these bars were a ‘game changer’ and it seems he’s right, because in 2017 Grenade was valued at £72 million.
And his company's success didn’t end there - fast forward to March last year and Grenade signed a £200 million deal with Mondelēz International - which also owns Cadbury.
But despite Mondelēz International buying majority shares in the company, Alan is remaining firmly at the helm of Grenade and is looking forward to what happens next.
He added: “I’m still CEO, I’m still an unqualified gym instructor, I still don’t really know what I’m doing but it seems to be working!”
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