Swiss chocolate maker Lindt saw revenues grow by 17.4% in the first half of the year, largely thanks to its acquisition of US confectionery firm Russell Stover.
Sales were up to CHF1.41bn in the six months to the end of the June, with organic sales (minus the contribution of Russell Stover) up 9.4%. In local currencies, including Russell Stover, revenues were up by 24.9%.
Lindt agreed to buy Russell Stover in a deal worth $1.4bn in July 2014.
Lindt & Sprüngli said in a statement: “Despite slowing and, in some cases, stagnating chocolate markets and record-high prices for raw materials, as well as an extremely strong Swiss franc, this result again confirms the success of our long-term strategy.”
The negative currency effect on group sales from the further strengthening of the Swiss franc amounted to a net drag of 7.5%.
The group saw solid sales growth in European core markets, North America as well as from emerging markets thanks to further market share gains.
In North America, the company continues to grow at a double-digit rate, while it grew market shares in the “largely saturated” markets in Switzerland and Europe and recorded “above-average growth rates”.
Key markets for chocolate such as Switzerland and Europe are largely saturated, with very little growth. Despite this extremely difficult market environment, however, Lindt & Sprüngli once again succeeded in gaining additional market share with above-average growth rates.
It said sales growth was in the high double digits for Lindt & Sprüngli in Australia and “impressive progress” was also achieved in developing markets, especially in Hong Kong and Japan, but also in Russia, Brazil and South Africa.
Looking forward, Lindt said the strength of the Swiss franc and high prices for raw materials will “continue to present major challenges”.
Nevertheless, the group is maintaining its 6-8% target for medium to long-term annual organic growth in this financial year.
It added that Russell Stover’s integration into the Group is the “top priority” for this year and this is being accomplished as “rapidly as possible”. Once completed, it expects Russell Stover to help increase its EBIT margin by 20 to 40 basis points.