Smoothie maker Innocent Drinks has fallen into the red after splurging on a new purpose-built factory in the EU post-Brexit.

Innocent opened its £200m CO2-neutral factory in Rotterdam in November 2021 to bottle products for both the UK and European markets, easing any issues with transporting fresh fruit across borders.

Newly filed accounts said the factory would underpin a “material move forwards” in profitability in coming years.

However, commissioning costs for the facility, dubbed ‘The Blender’, ate into profits in its 2021 financial year and will continue in 2022.

Therefore, the group fell to an operating loss of £9.5m in 2021 compared with a £4.8m profit the year prior, despite a 4.4% rise in sales to £441.8m.

Innocent said its ambitious “transformation programme”, which includes the opening of its Rotterdam facility and the implementation of new finance, manufacturing and technical systems, was yet to be fully embedded and realise its “full potential”.

“We can already see [these projects] are the right choice for our future and will deliver strategic operational and financial benefits needed to help us continue to grow,” it stated.

However, it warned in the near term profitability would continue to be constrained by commissioning costs and significant inflationary pressures and disrupted supply chains.

On a sales basis, it saw “good” market growth in the majority of European territory, with growth in take home juices and recovery in on-the-go sales. Meanwhile its Asian business grew in 2021, driven by China despite ceasing a pilot launch in Japan after “mixed” results.

The company was also recertified as a B-Corp during the year, representing “an important proof point of our commitment to be a force for good, showing a business can be successful whilst doing the right thing for people and the planet”.