Innocent sells stake to Coca-Cola

In an open letter on the Innocent website, co-founders Adam Balon, Jon Wright and Richard Reed explain why they’re “dead excited” by the investment.

“The funds raised allow us to do more of what innocent is here to do – get natural, healthy stuff out to as many people as possible,” the trio writes. “And the money raised is going into the business to fund our European expansion, so we can get Innocent out to more places (none of the cash is being paid out to the shareholders; that desert island will just have to wait).”

All three will remain with the business in a management capacity. They add that Coca-Cola was chosen because the company can “help us get our products out to more people in more places. Plus, they have been in business for over 120 years, so there will be things we can learn from them. And in some small ways we may be able to influence their thinking too.”

The decision, however, to team up with the drinks giant has raised eyebrows in many quarters.

The Guardian says the company has “finally lost its innocence” as a result of the deal. While not directly addressing such concerns, the founders claim in their letter that everything Innocent stands for will remain in place.

The Times is more circumspect about the transaction and what it will mean for the company’s ethos. Reed is quoted in the article as saying: “[Coca-Cola is] big into healthy, natural stuff too, it’s just that people here don’t know about it.

“We have spoken to some of our consumers and the majority of them have been very supportive about it. All this is going to allow us to do more of what we do — support charities, do more of that.”

The Telegraph argues that the investment will “raise questions over [Innocent’s] long-trumpeted ethical credentials”.

The article also notes Innocent ran into criticism in 2007 after agreeing to trial its drinks in McDonald’s restaurants.

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