A NATURAL fruit drink company co-founded by a Huddersfield man is to receive £30m from the giant Coca-Cola Company.
Smoothie maker innocent said the minority investment would be used to take the business to the “next level of success” in innovation and expansion in Europe.
Co-founder Richard Reed, who grew up in Kirkheaton and attended Batley Grammar School, said: “We’re excited by this minority investment as it enables us to do more of what we are here to do – get natural, healthy products to as many people as possible.
“All the money is coming into the business to fund our European expansion and the founders will continue to lead and run the company.
“We will be the same people, in the same offices, making the same products in the same way.”
Mr Reed said: “Every promise that innocent has made – about making only natural healthy products, pioneering the use of better, socially and environmentally aware ingredients, packaging and production techniques, donating money to charity and having a point of view on the world – will remain.
“We’ll just get to do them even more.”
James Quincey, group business unit president for Coca-Cola Europe, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to invest in innocent’s future.
“We have long admired their brand, their products and their unique approach to business.
“Our investment will support innocent in helping more consumers enjoy their products and for the business to expand across Europe.”
Earlier this year, Mr Reed – with co-founders and fellow Cambridge University graduates Adam Balon and Jon Wright – were ranked second in the list of Management Today’s Top 100 Entrepreneurs.
The three entrepreneurs started by selling smoothies made from fresh fruit juice at a jazz festival in the summer of 1998.
They put up a sign asking customers: “Do you think we should give up our day jobs to make these?” and put out reply bins labelled “yes” and “no.”
At the end of the day the “yes” bin was full, so the three launched innocent as a going concern.
The London-based company has doubled in size in each of the past three years to notch up annual sales of £115m and dominate the market for smoothies with a 72% share.
Last year, the company launched in Austria after expanding into Germany, Scandinavia and France.
That followed a £32m finance deal from Bank of Scotland to take its fruit smoothies and fruit juice drinks into new markets in Europe and the USA.