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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 11:40 GMT
PJ Smoothies sells out to Pepsi
When PJ Smoothies first launched, they were only sold in London
UK fruit juice and smoothie brand PJ Smoothies has been bought out by US drinks giant PepsiCo.

The maker of Pepsi and Gatorade bought the Nottingham-based business for an undisclosed sum.

Pepsi said the move would give it a significant presence at the premium end of the growing UK juice market.

The PJ brand - founded in 1994 - has a 33% share of the market and will join Pepsi's existing fruit juice brands Copella and Tropicana.

"We are pleased to announce this acquisition as we believe it will complement our beverage portfolio and offer opportunities in an area that has huge growth potential," PepsiCo UK president Martin Glenn said.

Other brands owned by Pepsi include Gatorade, Quaker and Walkers crisps.

Market boost

Market leader Innocent - which has a 45% share of the smoothie market and is still an independent company - welcomed the takeover saying it would attract "more investment and more drinkers" to the sector.

A spokeswoman for Innocent added that although it had had takeover approaches in the past, the firm had no plans to change its set-up and sell out to another company.

"We're quite happy, we were set up by three friends and they're still excited about what they are doing," she added.

Under the deal, Pepsi said it would maintain the company's current operational structure and its Newark factory, adding there were no plans for any changes to its production "at this stage".

PJ, or "Pete & Johnny", claims it was the first company to launch smoothies in the UK, where it began selling its products in 12 small convenience stores in London in 1994.

At the time, its drinks were made and frozen in California for export to the UK.

Growing demand prompted the company to open its UK factory in Newark, Nottinghamshire, in 1998.

Between 1998 and 2004, the company pumped 4m into developing the brand and steadily increased sales of its crushed fruit drinks, remaining the number-one smoothie brand in terms of volume.

Most of the group's drinks are sold in the UK, but the firm does have a presence in Ireland.

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