European confectioner Cloetta saw its losses widen in 2012 thanks to the merger that formed the company last year but it reported improved profits in the fourth quarter.

In the 12 months to the end of December, the company made a net loss of SEK73m (US$11.5m) compared to a net loss of SEK68m last year. Operating profit was down 65.9% to SEK125m, the company reported today (15 February). 

The losses were a result of restructuring costs following Cloetta’s merger last year with former Dutch confectioner Leaf International.

Annual sales increased 4.3% to SEK4.86bn. However, underlying net sales, which excludes foreign exchange, businesses offloaded since the merger and the financial performance of the old Cloetta, fell 4.1% to SEK5.08bn.

The company said the confectionery market in Italy shrank in 2012. The sector in the Netherlands, another key market, was “sluggish”.

However, Cloetta CEO Bengt Baron pointed to higher underlying EBITA in the fourth quarter as “a further step towards realising our strategic ambition”. The company benefited from synergies from the merger.

Baron said ongoing changes to Cloetta’s supply chain was still leading to “short-term costs” but added: “The fourth quarter, like the third quarter, was a step in the right direction. The synergies from the merger are being realised and the supply chain restructuring are proceeding as planned.”