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Lindt & Sprüngli: 2018 sales up, but market 'challenging'

( - Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Sprüngli said "impressive results" in Europe have lifted sales by 5.
5% in 2018, but also warned that its market environment remained "very challenging."

The premium chocolate manufacturer said sales amounted to 4.3 billion Swiss francs over the last year, with a solid organic growth of 5.6% in Europe.

But Lindt said that the chocolate markets are now "saturated" in Europe and the US, while mounting price pressure is transforming the retail landscape.

In North America - where markets are exposed to flat growth and price pressure - organic sales growth reached just 2.8%, the Kilchberg-based group said.

The group's operating margin in 2018 is expected to increase within the medium-to-long-term strategic target range, it added.

Looking ahead, Lindt & Sprüngli expects to continue to outperform growth in all the markets: it anticipates mid-to-long-term sales growth of 5%-7% and a steady 20-40 basis point improvement in its operating margin.

Lindt shares are currently down 4% at 5,810 Swiss francs, underperforming the European food sector index, which is up 0.3%. They have lost close to 5% so far this year.

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