Operating from its London HQ, ‘Fruit Towers’, Innocent keeps 75% of the UK’s smoothie market refreshed. Revered for its ethical methods, Innocent gives 10% of profits from its smoothies, thickies, juices and veg pots to charity.
- Lots of opportunities within the company
- Creative roles
- No specific graduate scheme
‘We sure aren’t perfect, but we’re trying to do the right thing’, reads Innocent’s online blurb on sustainability. While this may in fact be true, Innocent’s modesty is surpassed both by their ethical methods and altruistic results. In making its now ubiquitous smoothies, thickies, juices and veg pots, Innocent pays a premium for the best produce from all over the globe – while maintaining as low a carbon footprint as humanly possible – uses recycled or renewable packaging where and when it can, and pledges that everything it ever makes will always be ‘natural, delicious, healthy and sustainable’. It’s this focus on keeping things pure that gave this food and drinks company its name.
However, if not for a turn of fate, 75% of the UK’s smoothie drinkers would be reaching for cartons of Fast Tractor as we speak. Innocent has David Streek – design director at award-winning web designers Deepend – to thank for steering the company towards its now immediately recognisable branding; but even before the first bottle’s label came off the press, customers unanimously agreed the product itself was a winner.
In 1998, three Cambridge graduates spent six months and £500 on developing smoothie recipes. Armed with their new concoctions, the three friends sold their drinks from a stall at a music festival in London. Customers were given the choice of two bins in which they could discard their empty bottles: the ‘No’ bin was for those who thought the trio should carry on their careers in consulting and advertising; the ‘Yes’ bin was for those who thought they should quit their jobs to make smoothies. At the end of the festival, the ‘Yes’ bin was full to the brim, with a telling three cups disposed of under ‘No’. The next day the triumvirate quit their respective jobs.
The founders soon procured investment for their fledgling business, with Maurice Pinto, a wealthy American businessman, funding them to the tune of £250,000. Ten years on, Innocent’s principle investor sold his shares to The Coca-Cola Company for considerably more than his initial outlay. Although Coca-Cola now owns 58% of the company, the original founders maintain that the new investors are ‘hands-off’, ‘haven’t interfered’ and that Innocent will continue to be ‘run as a standalone business’. In short, it’s ‘smoothies-as-usual’.
‘Fruit Towers’, the company’s London HQ, presides over the two million Innocent smoothies sold each week. In addition to its national success, the company has thrived in Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, and Switzerland. Innocent now has eight offices across Europe and employs more than 220 people. In little over ten years, the company has grown from being ‘West London’s favourite little juice company’ to being ‘Europe’s favourite little smoothie company’ – and the founders still aren’t satisfied! By 2030, the aim is for Innocent to grow into ‘Earth’s favourite little food company’. And following their meteoric rise, who would bet against them? After all, a wise man once said, ‘We are limited not by our abilities but by our vision’.
Although Innocent doesn’t currently run a specific graduate scheme, opportunities are still plentiful for recent university leavers to land their dream job at ‘Fruit Towers’ – the company’s HQ in London. Innocent advertises entry level vacancies online, and unlike many other companies, also accepts speculative applications. If you are still at university, Innocent offers year-long placements suitable for students on a sandwich course and recruit for these every autumn.
So what is Innocent looking for? High-calibre candidates with excellent analytical and problem-solving skills, a result-oriented work ethic and creativity are a good fit for the company. As are born leaders, people who are flexible and those who enjoy, (or at least don’t shy away from), hard work.
Applying for a role at Innocent is relatively painless: send in your CV and covering letter and give intelligent and interesting responses to the five questions they ask you to answer online. Emphasise your motivation and recent achievements, making it explicit how you can have a real impact on the company. Innocent is keen to get to know you, so aim to sell your personality just as much as your skills.
If you are successful you will have to face three rounds in total. It is worth noting that Innocent does not expect you to follow a strict dress code for your interview. Rather, they recommend you wear whatever you feel most comfortable in.
The first round, consists of meeting your future line manager who will want to find out about your relevant experience and may ask you some competency-based questions to ensure you have the skills they are looking for. The second round will be more challenging and will involve a presentation or a role play that tests your business acumen and suitability for the role. Here they will examine your strengths and see if you can think logically and present information in a concise and structured manner. Expect questions to test your critical thinking, drive, and your career aspirations.
The third and final round of the application process will give you the opportunity to meet your future team and one of the board directors. Interviews are a two-way process so make sure you engage with the interviewer and ask questions all the way through. Always remember to give focus to your answers and moreover, to be yourself. Also, make sure you know about the company’s products and values beforehand, nothing puts an interviewer off more than someone who obviously hasn’t done the research.
Graduate Recruitment Info
Application Deadlines: Ongoing
Products: Fruit Tubes, Juices, Smoothies, Thickies, Veg Pots
No. of employees: 220
No. of offices: 8