Innocent Drinks UK MD Jamie Mitchell is set to leave the company to explore new opportunities in the world of private equity.

He would not give full details of his plans, but said he was talking to private equity firms about potential investments with the aim of buying struggling brands.

"There are a lot of highly leveraged consumer goods companies out there at the moment, which will no doubt be looking to offload some of their non-core brands in the near future," he said.

"I think there will be some great opportunities to develop these brands using the experience I have gained at Innocent."

Mitchell is set to leave the smoothie maker at the end of the year but told The Grocer he was prepared to stay on into the first quarter of next year if needed. "Christmas and New Year is a natural end for things and that will probably be a good time to go," he said. "But I have told the guys I can work on for a bit longer if necessary."

The company had been planning for Mitchell's departure since the summer but has not found a suitable successor. Mitchell revealed it now planned to restructure the management of the company.

The position of MD is to be scrapped and the board will report directly to the three co-founders who run the business.

Commercial director Giles Brooks will be promoted to the board, as will the currently vacant position of marketing director.

"We are close to filling the marketing position and should have someone in place very soon but I can't say anything more at the moment," said Mitchell. "We think the new structure will make Innocent a leaner and more agile business."

Mitchell said he was sad to be leaving the company he joined as marketing director in 2005, but maintained that he had stated from the outset that he only planned to spend between three and five years at Innocent.

"I am delighted to have helped take Innocent from an entrepreneurial operation to a established SME," he said.