Friday, September 17, 2021

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Premium chocolate emerges as winner in pandemic


As the coronavirus pandemic leads to the collapse of one retailer after another, Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Spruengli has been gaining U.S. market share and rival Laederach is opening its biggest store yet in New York.

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Chocolate has emerged as one product that consumers won't do without in trying times. The U.S. market for it expanded at unusually fast double-digit rates in June and July and it was still higher than pre-covid growth levels in September, according to Sanford C. Bernstein, which cited Nielsen data.

Laederach is opening a 2,500 square-foot shop on 5th Avenue in New York Thursday near Rockefeller Center. The family-owned brand is known in Switzerland for plates of fresh chocolates that have a shelf life of just a few weeks.

The plans to open a big brick-and-mortar store stand out after the pandemic led to bankruptcies of retailers like Brooks Brothers and J.C. Penney. Consumers looking to treat themselves to affordable luxuries have turned to chocolate, according to Bernstein analyst Bruno Monteyne.

Laederach entered the U.S. a year ago, betting it will soon become one of its biggest markets outside Switzerland.

"We don't have any doubts that after the pandemic sales will come back and grow again as they have been," Chief Executive Officer Johannes Laederach said in a phone interview. "As a family-owned business, we can think long-term."

Laederach doesn't publish regular financial details, but had revenue of 120 million Swiss francs ($135 million) in 2016 and sales growth of about 14% at the end of February. The company sells its products in 15 countries, including Germany, Singapore, and Canada. The chain also plans to open a store in Washington D.C. in February.

Lindt, known for its Lindor balls, has also done well in Europe lately, with average value growth of 25% in the second half. That may bode well for the Christmas season, after chocolate makers faced a weak Easter period earlier in the pandemic.

Shares of the chocolatier traded 0.4% higher at 12:38 p.m. in Zurich.

Published : December 10, 2020

By : Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Corinne Gretler