Sales of Veg Pots added to overall sales growth

Sales of Veg Pots added to overall sales growth

Fresh Trading, the parent group of smoothie and Veg Pots maker Innocent Drinks, narrowed its losses and increased sales in 2009, boosted by significant investment outside of the UK.

The company's sales for the 12 months to the end of December increased 6.8% on to reach GBP112.2m (US$164m).

The privately-traded firm narrowed its net losses to GBP3m, from GBP7.5m in 2008. Operating losses fell to GBP2.5m from GBP7.9m.

Failure to achieve a profit was due to to ongoing investment in subsidiaries in mainland Europe.

In the UK, Innocent Drinks saw its profits almost halved during the year, to GBP5.7m from GBP10.9m in 2008. Sales also slipped to GBP96.5m from GBP98.9m.

“Competitive risks have continued to increase with the introduction of new competitors and supermarket own-brand smoothies and the increase of promotional activity and discounts in the market,” Fresh Trading said in accounts filed with Companies House.

Smoothie sales in the UK fell by 27% in value and volume in 2009, in a market where Innocent constitutes around two thirds of the volume, according to the annual Britvic Soft Drinks Report.

Innocent's head of finance Jess Coles told just-food today (2 June) that the firm's smoothie sales were not struggling.

“There has obviously been a downturn in economic activities in the last two years and in particular 2008, where we did have a slight drop in sales in that year and our accounts reflect that. But since mid or late 2008 we’ve had increasing sales, obviously from a lower base, but smoothies sales have been going really well,” said Coles.

He added that the firm's Veg Pots had also added to sales growth. Innocent made its first foray into the food business last year, with the launch of the snack range.

“Veg Pots are another reason why our sales are growing, we’re investing in new products and Veg Pots have been a great success story to date. Growth has been over 200-300% since they were launched in 2008. There’s not much else out there that is directly comparable in the marketplace.”