Columbian chocolate company Grupo Nacional de Chocolates posted a 31% decline in first-quarter net profit yesterday (30 April), despite an increase in sales.

Net profit for the period dropped to COP44.3bn (US$19.3m) from COP64.5m in the previous year.

Operating profit also experienced a drop of 12.6% to COP110.8m, but exceeded estimates made in the budgets for the year, the company said.

EBITDA dropped to $123.9m, equating to a decrease of 8% due to devaluation, generating an increase in the cost of imported raw materials.

Despite this, sales grew 19% to COP43.13bn. International sales were up 18.7% on the previous year to $137.9m.

At the close of the quarter, the group employed 26,563 staff. The first three months of the year saw 412 jobs created.