Swiss chocolate producer Lindt & Sprüngli has reported a double-digit increase in sales, with the highest-ever growth rate in the company's history. With group sales for 2006 totalling CHF2.586bn (US$2.08bn), the increase over 2005 amounted to 15.1% in Swiss francs and 13.7% in local currencies.

An upturn in the world economy and consumer enthusiasm towards the end of the year benefited the chocolate company, with seasonal products performing particularly well. The duty free and export sectors made a strong contribution, while the company's North American subsidiaries Lindt & Sprüngli and Ghirardelli in the USA, as well as Canada and Mexico, also posted high double-digit growth.

The company anticipates a sales rise of between 6-8% in 2007. CEO Ernst Tanner told Reuters: "In the medium-term, we're aiming for sales growth of 6-8%. We will reach that in 2007, and we're confident we'll reach growth at the upper end of that range."

Profits were seen rising between 8-10%, although it was unclear whether Tanner meant net or operating profits.