Sir: Last week’s announcement of Coke’s increased holding in Innocent (‘Coca-Cola to increase Innocent stake to more than 90%’, thegrocer.co.uk, 22 February) completes an investment that has seen a meteoric rise in Innocent’s performance. Coke acquired its stake in three stages from its initial participation in 2009, the genesis being the Innocent founders’ desire to see their brand on a global stage.
In partnering with Coke they secured a “hands-off” partner with deep experience and resource who has helped them accelerate their growth plans. Critically for the founders, Coke was content to allow them absolute freedom to manage and develop their brand while remaining faithful to their core passions and values. The innovative transaction structure illustrates how a business can attain growth without an immediate outright sale and at a rate beyond anything that could be achieved organically.
For many F&B businesses operating in a tight credit regime, growth is a binary debate - acquisition or organic. The Innocent/Coke story shows that there is another way.
Philippe Hails-Smith, partner, Joelson Wilson, lawyers to Innocent and the founders