Chocolate maker Lindt & Sprüngli has reported a 7% rise in net sales for 2012 and estimated that profit margins widened during the year.

For the 12 months to the end of December, Lindt reported sales of CHF2.67bn (US$2.8bn), representing a 6.8% organic increase on 2011 and a 7.3% increase if currency changes are included. Higher volumes drove sales, said the firm today (15 January).

Against a troubled economic climate, Lindt said it achieved market share gains “in practically every country and category” during the year. In its outlook, the company said it expects operating profits “to advance even more strongly than sales growth” for 2012.

“In Europe, Germany, France and the UK were the fastest-growing subsidiaries,” said Lindt. “Among the key European markets, only Italy lagged slightly behind the previous year because of the extremely difficult economic environment.”

A key challenge for 2013 will be to increase the firm’s foothold in China and Russia, where Lindt established its first offices in 2012, in Beijing and Moscow.