The Valleys family business selling samosas to the world

A Valleys-based samosa business has unveiled plans for a second factory on the back of growing orders both in the UK and overseas. Based in Pontyclun, SamosaCo was founded in 2009 by husband and wife team, Sokhy and Goldie Sandhu.

The couples’ business story though started in Canada in the 1970s, when they first began selling samosas to customers from their grocery store in Toronto. The pair moved back to the UK in the 1980s, living in Reading before relocating to Cardiff in 1987 and opening numerous corner shops in the capital.

The business has proved so successful that the family are once again looking to expand. “The first shop was in Cowbridge Road East and then we opened a second shop in Cardiff Bay and then others in local areas, such as Cathays and Llandaff North,” said their son and operations director Tee Sandhu, who now runs the business with his parents.

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“We would make samosas out of the central kitchen at the back of the Cardiff Bay shop and then sell them at all our shops. People used to come in and order them for parties and events and from there it just sort of sparked an idea to look at doing something different, ”he added.

In 2009, they made the decision to launch SamosaCo. They sold their shops in Cardiff and opened a factory in Pontyclun with 12 staff, and began producing samosas before expanding the range to include bhajis, pickles, chutneys, sauces and ready meals.

Today, the business sells across Wales and the UK and exports to markets in the Netherlands, Spain, Singapore and soon to be UAE and Belgium. It is predicted to make an annual turnover of between £ 700,000- £ 750,000 at the end of this year.

“It was meant to be quite a small operation, selling samosas locally, but they were so popular that our team, factory and business grew organically within the first couple of years,” said Tee.

He added: “We started to take on a few more customers and one of our first big customers was Castell Howell. We supplied them with frozen samosas and then through that developed and increased the range to include ready meals, condiments and our now popular onion bhaji Scotch eggs. “

Now, the business plans to expand production of its ready meals and snack products by opening a second food factory in Merthyr Tydfil later this year. The new 2,500 sq ft site will be based in Pant Industrial Estate and employ four to six new workers.

“In the current factory, we make around 10,000 samosas a day, 10,000 onion bhaji scotch eggs a week and in terms of curries we churn out around 5,000 ready meals a week. But the new factory will allow us to grow production, ”said operations director Tee Sandhu.



SamosaCo
The Sandhu family

When SamosaCo first launched, it predominantly offered catering and supplied to foodservice outlets with only a small retail presence. But when the pandemic closed a big portion of their customer base, the family had to refocus the business and look at the retail market.

“Pre-pandemic, around 80% of our business supplied foodservice and hospitality, but during Covid that disappeared overnight and we knew we needed to really push the retail side,” said Tee.

“We rebranded and launched a range of chilled retail products which included seven new vegan meal pots. We also changed our onion bhaji Scotch eggs for a retail format and launched a new range of pickles, chutneys and sauces, ”he said.

It has also collaborated with other Welsh businesses, including Blaenafon Cheddar Company, creating a range of cheeses flavored with SamosaCo’s pickles: Punjabi green chilli pickle cheddar, Punjabi lime pickle cheddar and Punjabi firecracker aubergine pickle cheddar.

SamosaCo has since picked up retail listings in the major supermarkets, selling into Morrisons’ stores in Wales, alongside Ocado and Costco nationally. Most recently, SamosaCo secured a listing in Tesco stores throughout Wales, launching its new three-strong range of spicy vegan meal pots with the retailer, which includes spinach, chickpea and sweet potato curry, Tarka Daal and Punjabi chickpea curry.

Nathan Edwards, Tesco’s local buyer for Wales, said: “SamosaCo are a great family firm, and their products are delicious. We know there is a tremendous and increasing appetite amongst our customers for tasty vegan and plant-based options, so they will be a great addition to our range in store. “

Tee said: “We’d like to get more of our products onto the shelves in the multiples, but we’re concentrating on Wales. We also supply a lot of independents throughout the country, like delis, farm shops and convenience stores. We’re quite a small brand within the independent market and our aim is to become more of a household name like Tracklements or Cottage Delight. “

The company also has ambitions to grow its export portfolio although at the moment it is only exporting small quantities abroad.



SamosaCo
SamosaCo’s Punjabi chickpea curry

“Most of our business is UK-based. But we send one product to a retailer in the Netherlands and sell two items to a wholesaler in Spain. It’s hard to put volumes on these because it’s so unpredictable, ”said Tee.

“Exporting is quite a challenge. Europe never used to be as much of a challenge as it is now – for obvious reasons, ”he added. “But exporting anything is always about trying to find the right partner within those markets. Whether an agent, wholesaler, distributor or retailer, it’s just finding the right fit for your business. Even if that can take a bit of time.”

But within Wales, Tee said the business has had plenty of support and investment, working with the Development Bank of Wales and NatWest Bank’s accelerator program.

“They have been fantastic in terms of clustering up with other businesses and expertise, but there is an option for personal investment in the future as well.”

The company has also been able to take advantage of what the Welsh Government can offer too, particularly attending Welsh Government trade events like Taste Wales.

“We did Taste Wales in November and that was fantastic. It’s nice to have some normality back [following the pandemic] and meet customers and potential buyers again, ”said Tee. “I just did the Farm Shop and Deli Show in Birmingham and I’ve never had a better trade show.”

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