The Coca-Cola Co is to handle Innocent Drinks' smoothie distribution and sales in Sweden and is considering similar deals in several other European markets. 

Coca-Cola Drycker Sverige (Coca-Cola Drinks Sweden) will manage sales  and administration for Innocent Drinks on the Swedish market from 2010.

Innocent, which controls more than two thirds of the UK smoothie market, agreed to sell a stake of between 15% and 20% in its business to The Coca-Cola Co in April for GBP30m (US$49m).

A spokesperson for Coca-Cola Sweden told just-drinks today (7 December): "We will handle the sales of Innocent in Sweden. Before, Innocent worked with another company [Skanemejerier] based in Southern Sweden and they have now ended that collaboration. Innocent in Sweden will still be its own company.

Coca-Cola Co is eyeing similar deals in other markets. The spokesperson added: "When the Coca-Cola Co bought a share in Innocent, we said it was a good idea to take over the sales in Sweden. I think this may also eventually be the same in many other countries."

Christian Fischer, general manager for Innocent in the Nordic Region said he was "excited" by the new agreement: "The arrangement will enable us to do more of what we are here to do - get our natural, healthy products to as many people as possible," he said.

The agreement, effective from January 1st 2010, relates only to the sales and distribution of innocent and will have no other impact on innocent's day-to day operations or brand proposition. Innocent will continue as a stand-alone company in Sweden, Innocent added.

At the time of the Coca-Cola stake buy, Innocent executives said the investment would help the company to expand overseas

Last month, Innocent Drinks accounts showed that the company suffered pre-tax losses in 2008.