First-quarter sales rise at Barry Callebaut

by Eric Schroeder
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ZURICH, SWITZERLAND — Barry Callebaut, a manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate products, said first-quarter sales for the period ended Nov. 30 rose 3.6% to 1,241 million Swiss francs ($994 million).

"We were able to carry the strong fourth-quarter growth of the past fiscal year into the first quarter of the current fiscal year; seasonal Christmas business was again very good," said Patrick De Maeseneire, chief executive officer. "Our new organizational structure introduced as of Sept. 1, 2006, will allow us to drive the intended geographic expansion and growth outside of Western Europe with the necessary determination."

In the Region Americas, sales revenue declined 4% to 278.1 million Swiss francs, reflecting lower sales of consumer products and negative foreign exchange effects, partly offset by higher sales in the other businesses.

"Sales in the food manufacturers and the gourmet and specialties business units showed solid growth rates," the company said. "Consumer products North America did not renew a low-margin contract with a major U.S. retailer for Halloween products and discontinued a number of unprofitable products. This led to overall flat sales volumes and lower sales revenue in this region."

Looking ahead, Mr. De Maeseneire said the company expects organic top-line growth of 3% to 5% and earnings before interest and taxes of 8% to 10% for the 3-year period 2005-06 through 2007-08.

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