Coca-Cola is set to increase its influence in Innocent Drinks with the multi-national firm due to raise its share in the company.
It is part of a move that will see the smoothie maker's founders step away from the day-to-day running of the organisation. However, joint chief executive Richard Reed explained to The Grocer that himself, Adam Balon and Jon Wright would all stay on at Innocent's executive committee and board. Mr Reed added that the existing management team would be taking over the majority of operations but the full details were yet to be officially announced.
The deal with Coca-Cola is the third that the company has made, and it will see Coke increase its stake from 58 per cent to over 90 per cent. Mr Reed told the news provider that the extra share would be officially ratified in May and represented a major investment programme from the larger firm.
He added: "It [Innocent] will still totally be the same company with the same people, same products. It will all be run by Innocent. It's exactly what Coca-Cola wants and what's right for the business.
"If you look at what's happened, from £105 million sales in 2008 before the deal, we've doubled the size of the business to £209 million – during a recession – and returned the business to a profit for the first time since 2007."
Since Innocent's launch at a festival in 1999, the company has gone from strength to strength. It is committed to making smoothies created from 100 per cent natural produce and the deal with Coca-Cola further shows the prominence it is now showing within the industry.
James Quincey, Coca-Cola's group president, Europe, also spoke of his pleasure at reaching this deal and added: "Our relationship with innocent continues to flourish and our investment has fuelled the business’s expansion. We remain confident in the long-term growth potential of the company and the team and consider the brand values as fundamental to continued success."