Lindt & Spruengli AG is challenging Godiva as the Swiss company set a goal of becoming the world’s largest premium chocolate retailer by 2020, bolstering its direct sales to consumers.
Lindt plans to open 20 to 30 shops each year, the Kilchberg, Switzerland-based maker of Lindor balls said in a statement on Tuesday as it reported full-year profit growth in line with analysts’ estimates. The company also raised its dividend 10 percent to 800 francs a share, beating the Bloomberg forecast for 750 francs.
Lindt, which has more than 300 shops, will need to accelerate its expansion plan to beat its larger rival, which runs more than 450 boutiques. Lindt said it will use its store network to communicate with consumers, seeking prime locations and offering some products they can’t find elsewhere. Lindt added 50 stores last year, including 16 in Brazil, and retail sales rose more than 20 percent, faster than the company’s total sales growth.
The maker of chocolate Easter bunnies wrapped in golden foil confirmed its mid-to-long-term organic sales growth forecast of 6 percent to 8 percent.
Earnings before interest and tax rose 9.4 percent to 518.8 million francs ($522 million). Analysts expected 519.6 million francs, according to the average estimate. Sales rose 7.1 percent on an organic basis.
Lindt became the third-largest
chocolate maker in the US when it bought Russell Stover for 1.5 billion francs in 2014. North American sales rose 7.9 percent last year, slowing from 14 percent growth in 2014 as Russell Stover eliminated unprofitable products.
Lindt & Sprüngli AG, more commonly known as Lindt, is a leading Swiss chocolatier and confectionery company.
The origins of the company date back to 1845.
David Sprüngli-Schwarz and his daughter, Anna Burleson, owned a small confectionery shop in the old town of Zürich. Two years later, a small factory was added that produced chocolate in solid form.