Innocent Drinks has reported pre-tax losses for 2008 as a result of tougher trading conditions and one-time charges, but the UK smoothie group has told just-drinks that trading in 2009 is in-line with its expectations.

Innocent reported pre-tax losses of GBP11.2m (US$18.8m) for the year ending 31 December 2008, compared to profits of GBP12m the year before, according to accounts filed by the firm with Companies House and published this week.

The firm also suffered a sales fall to GBP98.9m, from GBP112m in 2007.

In the UK, sales fell to GBP85.3m from GBP104.1m in the previous year.

Innocent said that competitive risks have continued to increase with the introduction of new competitors and supermarket own brand smoothies. It also said the increase of promotional activity and discounts in the market remained a risk.

"In 2008, whilst the core UK business remained profitable, the overall Fresh Trading Group posted a small operating loss of GBP1.1m," a spokesperson for Innocent told just-drinks today (9 November). "There were three contributing factors - tougher trading conditions (we saw aggressive competition, fruit prices rise and the economic climate deteriorate)."

The company also cited the planned investment in its "high-growth" international business, where it delivered annual growth of 82% in 2008 to become Europe's "number one smoothie company", and a one-off financial adjustment linked to the company's employee incentive scheme.

"In 2009 the business is performing well ahead of plan and is exhibiting 20% year on year growth (over the past three months). We remain the UK's number one smoothie company with our strongest ever market share," the spokesperson said.

Innocent, which controls more than two thirds of the UK smoothie market, in April agreed to sell a stake of between 15% and 20% in its business to The Coca-Cola Co (TCCC) for GBP30m.

Coca-Cola's purchase triggered a GBP5.5m charge relating to share options, while Innocent also booked a GBP1.4m item for exchange rate losses.