Sweet returns for chocolate maker

The sales prove that more and more people just cannot resist Keystone

Chocolate maker, Lindt & Sprüngli, has announced that sales in 2004 topped a record SFr2 billion ($1.69 billion), driven by growth in the premium sector.

This content was published on January 25, 2005 - 09:48

The company said on Tuesday that the financial year had been “a success in practically every respect”.

In a statement from its headquarters near Zurich, the company reported that revenues in local currencies went up by 12.5 per cent to SFr2.016 billion, its highest-ever growth rate.

The company added that sales in Swiss francs were up by 12 per cent.

It commented that slightly lower growth in Swiss francs could be explained by the fact that sales in the euro, which was trading a little higher against the Swiss franc, were unable to compensate completely for the losses incurred as a result of the weaker US dollar.

The figures beat market expectations, with analysts polled by Reuters forecasting sales of SFr1.980 billion on average.

Chocolate bunnies

Lindt & Sprüngli, which is known for its gold foil-wrapped Easter bunnies and Lindor chocolate balls, said it expected the percentage increase in 2004 operating and net income to beat that in sales growth.

The complete financial figures will be announced at a news conference on March 15.

Lindt & Sprüngli said that most European markets grew faster than in previous years.

Overall, the US market showed only marginal growth of about 1.5 per cent.

By contrast, driven by substantially increased marketing investments by Lindt and Ghirardelli, the premium segment showed “exceptionally strong growth”.

Duty-free

Sales in duty-free outlets benefited from the positive trend in the tourist industry, the statement said.

And as 2004 was a leap year and various holidays fell on a Sunday, the number of sales days was higher.

The statement said that the company’s strategy – launched ten years ago – of focusing on premium-quality chocolate in existing and new markets continued to secure substantial long-term growth potential for the group.

In November, Lindt’s chief executive Ernst Tanner repeated the company’s long-term sales growth rate of five to seven per cent annually.

The firm plans to open up to ten new US stores and is expanding into Russia and Japan to tap demand for premium chocolates.

Tanner told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in December that he expected US revenues to increase by more than ten per cent for at least five years.

Along with Lindt’s stores in Canada, North America accounted for 22 per cent of sales last year.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Sales in 2004 were up by 12 per cent in Swiss francs to SFr2.016 billion ($1.69 billion).
Lindt & Sprüngli reported a net profit of SFr122.4 million in 2003 on sales of SFr1.8 billion.
At the end of 2003, it employed a staff of just over 6,000 worldwide.
The company traces its roots back to 1845.

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