Profits dipped at Innocent Drinks last year as the smoothie and juice supplier experienced a slowdown in UK growth.

Operating profit for the year to 31 December 2013 dropped by 18.6% year on year, to £9.6m from £11.8m in 2012, on turnover that was 3% higher, at £202.2m.

This 3% revenue growth represents a significant slowdown from the 30% revenue boost the company experienced in 2012.

The newly filed Companies House figures show Innocent’s revenues have plateaued in the UK - falling 2.4% year on year to £159.9m. Consequently, the company has focused on growing its international footprint, with European sales growing by 30% to £42.3m and representing 20.9% of total revenues (up from 16.5% of sales in 2012).

The drop in profits is partly attributable to investment in staff made during the year, as the average number of employees rose by almost 11% to 226 people, and overall staff costs rose 16.5% to £14m. Directors’ remuneration more than doubled, from £141k to £323k, during the year.

Douglas Lamont, innocent CEO commented: ”We are very proud to be the UK and Europe’s #1 smoothie brand, and are pleased to be able to show continued growth in what has been a challenging year for the market.

“Our financial statements demonstrate the result of planned investment in marketing and international expansion as we continue on our goal to become Europe’s favourite little juice company. This investment has also meant we were able to keep our prices affordable in a tough economic climate, whilst also support innovation and NPD, international expansion and great marketing campaigns (such as our biggest ever Big Knit) to keep growing the brand.”

In its accounts, the company talked of increased competition during the year due to new competitors and supermarket own-brand smoothies as well as an increase in promotional activity in the market.

Nonetheless, Innocent’s balance sheet strengthened during the year, growing its net assets by 22.2% from £41.5m to £50.7m.

Innocent’s reported profits remained stable (£9.23m against £9.94m in 2012) after paying a lower sum of tax. Total tax payments fell from £2.78m to £243K after it received group tax relief worth £1.98m.

In 2013, Coca-Cola acquired the remaining share capital in Innocent it did not already own. “Coca-Cola continue to support our aspiration to become Europe’s favourite little juice company, and we are confident we are on track to achieve that,” Innocent said in the accounts.

Innocent also stressed it had ” kept up momentum” on its two flagship sustainability projects, to reduce water use in Spanish strawberry production and help Indian mango farmers cope with climate change.

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