Lindt sees sales growth ahead as consumers crave sweet treats

Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli (LISN.S), said on Tuesday it expects demand for its upmarket chocolates to grow this year after the pandemic saw consumers increasingly splurge on sweet treats, boosting 2021 sales by 13.3%.

Global chocolate markets recovered last year and the maker of Lindor chocolate balls, which kept spending on advertising and new products throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, said it gained market share from competitors in all key countries.

Its Lindor range did well and it recorded double-digit growth in its major European markets in Germany, Italy, Britain and Switzerland, the company based in Kilchberg on Lake Zurich said in a statement.

“Important growth drivers were the ongoing high demand for products for home consumption and a recovery for products for gift-giving occasions,” Lindt said, adding online sales also saw double-digit growth while sales at its own stores were still impacted by pandemic-related restrictions.

Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Jon Cox said the figures were solid, but pointed to a slowdown in North America in the second half of 2021, possibly “on the back of its Russell Stover brand”.

Full-year sales rose to 4.59 billion Swiss francs ($5.01 billion), ahead of a 4.55 billion franc estimate in a Refinitiv poll. The company confirmed it expects an operating margin of “around 14%” for 2021. Full results are due on March 8.

In 2022, Lindt wants to achieve growth in line with its medium to long-term target of 5-7% with an operating profit margin of 15%. The margin is then expected to rise by 20-40 basis points per year from 2023, Lindt said.

The group’s participation certificates, down more than 10% so far this year, were indicated to open 0.24% lower, in line with the overall market.

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