An old bus garage in London's fashionably seedy Ladbroke Grove is home to Fresh Trading, creators of the Innocent smoothie, an assault on the upper reaches of the UK juice business. Inspired by an American market worth around dollars 250 million, fresh-faced founders Adam Balon, 27, Richard Reed, 26, and Jon Wright, 27, naturally hope that their crushed-fruit recipes will take off in the same way that other Stateside imports, such as luxury ice cream, bagels and 'Italian' coffee, have before them.
To judge from the way that the stuff has been jumping off the shelves at upmarket metropolitan stores, including Harvey Nichols, Caffe Nero and Planet Organic, (despite its hefty pounds 1.79 price-tag for a 250ml bottle), its makers may just be right. They claim that bright young professional Brits are crying out for this instant health fix.
As university friends who always talked of going into business together, the threesome started out on high-flyer graduate career paths: Wright and Balon with two of the 'big six' management consultancy firms and Reed with ad agency BMP, the firm behind New Labour's election campaign. It was on a skiing holiday in February 1998 that they realised that their high-octane jobs could be ruining their health. 'We'd been working hard and hadn't had anything decent to eat for weeks. We knew that we should be eating lots of fresh stuff, but it was always simpler to get a burger or a kebab,' says Reed.