Innocent Drinks is looking for an investor to help counter a downturn in smoothie sales and fund further growth. The company will sell a minority stake for up to £35m.
Innocent has previously repeatedly stated its commitment to maintaining its independence, and it is not known what kind of investor it will now be looking to attract.
The move comes as TNS data reveals that sales of Innocent Smoothies almost halved from £6.3m in the four weeks to June 15, compared with £3.4m in the four weeks to September 7.
Currently, US investor Maurice Pinto owns a 16% stake in the company, 10% is held by an employee benefit trust, with the remainder shared between its three founders Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright.
Reed says: “Following the significant growth of our international business over last few years and the successful launch of our Innocent Veg Pots, we have decided to look for a minority investor to support our next phase of growth,” Reed says.
“Natural, healthy food presents a huge opportunity both in the UK and in Europe, and we want to make the most of this by stepping up the pace we go after it by.”
He says that despite the downturn in smoothie sales the company remains “committed” to the smoothie category. “That means investing in making smoothies more affordable, and increasing ATL investment.”
Innocent was set up in 1998 and produces the UK’s leading smoothie brand, with a 63% market share. Innocent smoothies are now sold in 12 European countries.