Lindt & Spruengli on Tuesday confirmed it expects organic sales growth of 5-7 percent in 2019 after an improving situation in the United States. Photo: File

INTERNATIONAL - Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli on Tuesday confirmed it expects organic sales growth of 5-7 percent in 2019 after an improving situation in the United States supported profit and sales growth in the first half of 2019.

Chocolate makers have been facing sluggish demand in saturated western markets, but Lindt’s focus on faster-growing premium products, its own branded store network and a push into new markets has allowed it to buck that trend.

“The situation in the US, the world’s largest chocolate market, improved and the trading environment recovered slightly after several difficult years of restructuring,” said the company based in Kilchberg, on the shores of Lake Zurich.

The Russell Stover business Lindt bought in 2014 achieved a sales plus for the first time in years and the group’s US unit overall reported “a sound results and market share gains following challenging previous periods”, the maker of Lindor chocolate balls and gold foil-wrapped Easter bunnies said in a statement.

Group net profit rose 2.4 percent to 88.1 million Swiss francs ($89.54 million), while organic sales increased by 6.2 percent to 1.76 billion francs, Lindt said.

The group confirmed it expected full-year sales growth this year to be within its target range of 5-7 percent and an operating margin improvement of 20-40 basis points.

Reuters