• Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

Chocolate maker Lindt sees growth slow after bottleneck bite

ZURICH — Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Spruengli expects sales of its premium chocolates to grow less in 2022 than last year, it said on Tuesday, and blamed bottlenecks in the supply chain slowdown in late 2021 in North America.

The maker of the best-selling Lindor chocolate balls, which has maintained spending on advertising and new products throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, said market share gains boosted organic sales by 13, 3% last year.

Lindt, along with other chocolate makers, saw a drop in demand in 2020, but sales have picked up strongly in 2021, with people eating more treats and buying gifts for friends and relatives than they had. couldn’t see at the height of the pandemic.

The main European markets as well as online activity recorded double-digit growth, but North America slowed to 10.7% for the year as a whole, compared to 18.8% in the first half, Lindt said.

The slowdown “is partly due to temporary supply chain bottlenecks caused by a shortage of labor and materials at Russell Stover’s three manufacturing sites,” a spokeswoman said. from the Swiss chocolatier in an emailed statement, referring to an American brand owned by the group.

The group’s participation certificates, which are more liquid than its shares, have fallen more than 10% so far this year, and are down 4.5% at 0921 GMT on Tuesday.

Analysts said expectations were very high for the company.

Bernstein analyst Bruno Monteyne said the performance was driven by a very strong premium chocolate market and market share gains, with the beats in Europe and the rest of the world offsetting the miss in North America. North.

Looking ahead, the Kilchberg-on-lake-Zurich-based company said it expects its organic sales to grow 5% to 7% this year, in line with medium to long-term forecasts.

The company confirmed that it expects to post an operating margin of “around 14%” for 2021 when releasing full results on March 8.

The margin is expected to reach 15% next year, then increase by 20 to 40 basis points per year from 2023, Lindt said.

Full-year sales reached 4.59 billion Swiss francs ($5.01 billion), ahead of an estimate of 4.55 billion francs in a Refinitiv survey.

($1 = 0.9154 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz, editing by Miranda Murray, Louise Heavens and Barbara Lewis) ((silke.koltrowitz@thomsonreuters.com; +41 41 528 3638;))