Smoothie maker Innocent has ramped up its executive team as it seeks to reverse falling UK sales and continue an aggressive European expansion strategy.

Nick Canney, VP sales and marketing for CCE Great Britain, becomes UK and Ireland managing director, filling a vacancy left since the departure of Dave Pickup in March.

Innocent has also brought in Tim Clarke, formerly at Bacardi, to become group marketing director. Plus, Andreas Welsch joins from Iglo, to become Northern Europe regional head.

The Coca-Cola-owned soft drinks company has seen profits dip in the UK, with sales hit amid consumer concern over sugar. CEO Douglas Lamont said the new hires would put added firepower behind its plans for innovative new launches, as well as further growth abroad.

“This year has been tough and it’s been a turbulent retail environment in the UK. But we will continue our track record of innovation with new launches,” he said.

Lamont added that Innocent would continue to stand up to attacks on the health properties of fruit juice and smoothies from the health lobby. He pointed out it was one of the few companies to speak out, having commissioned research in a bid to shoot down what he argued were unbalanced claims about the nutritional benefits of the products.

Commenting on Canney’s move, CCE GB VP and general manager Leendert den Hollander said: “Nick has been an excellent leader of our sales and marketing team. I thank him for his strong contribution and wish him all the best in his exciting new role.”

Ignace Corthouts will replace Canney as CCE VP sales and marketing from 1 February. Corthouts has worked within Coca-Cola for 24 years and is currently VP and country director for CCE Norway.