Coca-Cola eyes Innocent stake

Coca-Cola Great Britain & Ireland is believed to have made an approach to buy a minority stake in Innocent Drinks.

Coca-Cola Great Britain & Ireland is believed to have made an approach to buy a minority stake in Innocent Drinks.

The soft drinks giant is reportedly one of a number of investors interested in investing in the smoothie company.

Innocent announced last October that it is looking to find a minority investor to fund future growth as the rapid growth the company has seen in recent years begins to slow.

As a supplier, sales grew 140% in 2006 before slowing to 46% in 2007, according to the last Britvic Soft Drinks Report, with many expecting a further slowdown as cash-strapped consumers reign in their spending.

Private equity groups Bridgepoint and Darwin are among those who have also reportedly expressed an interest in buying a stake.

In December, Innocent appointed former Walkers marketing chief Thomas Delabriere as its marketing director.

The appointment came at the same time as then managing director Jamie Mitchell left the company to pursue other interests. His departure led to a restructure which saw commercial director Giles Brooks promoted to the board.

Delabriere replaced Gareth Helm who left Innocent last March to set up his own marketing consultancy.

Both Coca-Cola and Innocent say they do not comment on speculation. 

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