Coca Cola has launched an approach to take a minority stake in smoothie maker Innocent Drinks, according to press reports.

The soft drinks giant is among a number of possible buyers looking at taking a share in Innocent, according to the Sunday Telegraph, as the UK smoothie company looks to raise funds to expand overseas.

The move would give Coca Cola a foothold in the UK smoothie market, where drinks rival PepsiCo last year launched its Tropicana Smoothies range with a £4.5m marketing push.

Last year sales at Innocent dropped by just over 20% from £134m to £107m. The company, launched 11 years ago by three Cambridge graduates, has previously been linked with investment from financial groups including Bridgepoint and Darwin Private Equity.

Founder Richard Reed refused to comment on the specifics of the story but confirmed to The Grocer it was in talks with several potential players: "We don't comment on rumour and speculation. We've got some good offers on the table, but we're not in exclusive talks with anyone, and we're only engaging in conversations around minority investments. We don't anticipate closing any deals before the end of April."