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06 April 2009

Your views on Innocent selling minority stake to Coke

I'm a bit ambivalent about today's news about Innocent selling a minority stake to Coca-Cola. 

I personally don't think that Coke are the root of all evil (ditto McDonalds), but they do have a bit of a reputation issue, especially when contrasted with a company that has always screamed about its ethical principles.  Which is why I find Innocent's contorting a bit hard to buy.  Can this really just be for expansion purposes?  I suppose it is possible the legitimate answer is yes: these are hard times and not a lot of companies will be flashing the cash for international expansion. 

Then again, it's only a few months since the firm said they were looking to side-step the downturn by developing new products.  Perhaps a more likely explanation for today's events is that those products didn't work out and taking Coke's shilling is more attractive than other options.

Anyway, enough of me.  I'm interested to know what you think:


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My guess is that they're doing both. They're taking the investment from Coke so they can develop new products. Coke wouldn't be happy if they took a stake only for Innocent to continue with the status quo albeit in more places, right?

I know as fact, CocaCola have long targeted them as a company they wanted and about 3 years ago Coke even went so far as to say, let us buy you or we'll destroy you. Maybe, just maybe they started believing that threat. I doubt very much Innocent would have done this unless they really needed to.

@Krista, I'm not sure I entirely agree with you. Coke have bought into Innocent because they see value. Obviously they want to develop that value, but what they're buying into is three very smart English chaps who have built a business based on irreverent and very clever marketing focused on a good product. The current state is what drew them in.

@simone, I agree with your sentiment. Although if you're right about Coke saying we'll destroy you, it's testament to Innocent's strength that over the past three years they Coke haven't managed to do so. Nonetheless it does feel this is a sign that the Innocent guys must be facing some pressures - although in the FT article I linked to above, they did say as much last October.

It rather pangs of Pret's part-sale to McDonalds, including the 'letter to our customers'. It's understandable, but trying to make it something other than what it is is patronising rubbish - but sits comfortably with the innocent 'you're our friend' brand.

@William, I agree completely.

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