The launch of a number of new products helped increase sales at Italian confectionery group Ferrero during 2002. Consolidated group sales for the year rose by 4.4 per cent to €4.55 billion, and would have risen by 5.5 per cent at constant exchange rates.
The group's domestic business - Ferrero SpA - reported turnover of €1.7 billion for the year, up 5.5 per cent on the previous period and despite difficult economic conditions. The increase in sales was driven by improvements from virtually all of Ferrero's main brands, in particular pralines, snack products, Nutella and Estathé ice tea.
Ferrero SpA's operating profits for the year were up 17.5 per cent to €218.9 million as a result of higher volume sales, efficiency gains and the company's new raw material purchasing strategy, while net profits were ahead 18.1 per cent on the previous year at a record €105.9 million.
Ferrero has 28 operating companies, 31 sales offices and 15 production facilities across the world.
Among the major product launches for the year were a decaffeinated version of Estathé and Kinder Schoko-Bons, while the group also saw a return on its sponsorship investments with victory of the Kinder-sponsored Italian women's volleyball team at last year's world championships. The company also increased its advertising investments, with new television spots for Ferrero Rocher and Tic Tac.
This week also sees the launch of the newest addition to the Kinder portfolio - Kinder Happy Hippo - which the group claims is the first product in the range not to contain chocolate.
Targeted at young children, Kinder Happy Hippo is a wafer biscuit in the shape of a hippopotamus with a creamy milk and hazelnut filling. Like the other Kinder products, Happy Hippo contains 21 per cent milk.
Ferrero claims to be the Italian confectionery market leader with a 56 per cent share. Its main brands are Kinder Bueno, Kinder Cereali, Kinder Maxi, Tronky and Duplo. Happy Hippo will be the first product targeting children in the 6-10 years old age group.
As well as Italy, it will be rolled out in Spain, Greece, Denmark, Germany, Croatia, Luxembourg, Ireland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. The Italian launch will be supported by a major advertising campaign, with TV spots and point-of-sale promotional material, costing €3.5 million.