Swiss luxury chocolate producer Lindt & Sprüngli has revealed a 3.5% increase in 2001 sales to SFr1.59bn (US$932m), denying fears that the terrorist attacks of 11 September would hit turnover through lower US duty free demand.

Before translation into Swiss francs sales actually rose 6.3%, but the company explained that difference in growth rates was caused by the discrepancy between the Swiss franc against the euro.

The sales figure, which was in line with analysts’ expectations, was generated through a series of new product introductions, said the company. Analysts have said that Lindt is run like a multinational in terms of its frequent product launches, packaging changes and high spending on advertising.

Founded in 1845, Lindt said it enjoyed double-digit sales growth in Germany, GB, Canada and the US, which has become its most significant market after the purchase of US company Ghirardelli in 1998.

French sales were lower than elsewhere, however, but the company has overhauled its French product range and expects improvements this year.

Lindt has said it targets annual growth of 5-7% in sales and 10-12% in operating profit. It added recently that it expects 2001 operating profit to reveal a faster growth rate than sales. The company publishes its full financial results on 26 March.