Global confectionery giant, Hershey, has announced encouraging sales and rising profits - thanks to a strong focus on product innovation and seasonal marketing in the last year.
In its quarterly results, the company recorded a 6 per cent rise in net income from $93.2m (€73.5m) to $98.4m (€77.6m) and sales topping the billion mark, climbing 6.4 per cent from $988.4m (€780m) to $1.05bn (€793m).
Hershey, who make Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Jolly Ranchers candy and Ice Breakers chewing gum, attributed its success over the last year to its new lines of dark chocolate products and the popularity of its Kissable range - smaller, candy-coated versions of the company's trade mark Kiss chocolates which were launched in November.
The group owns 11 per cent of the global chocolate market with a particularly strong presence in the dark chocolate sector where its share is 77 per cent.
Chief executive officer, Richard H Lenny said: "As we enter the second half of 2006, we're encouraged by our prospects. A combination of new product innovation, solid seasonal programming, and good visibility into our total cost structure will enable us to deliver our full-year objectives."
In the coming year, the company forecast steady growth with sales exceeding earlier predictions of a 3 to 4 per cent rise.
According to market researchers, Leatherhead International, the Hershey company employs around 13,000 people in 60 countries worldwide.
Last year, Hershey substantially expanded its portfolio through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Artisan Confections Company, with the acquisition of the assets of Joseph Schmidt Confectioners and Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker - a prominent producer of dark and gourmet chocolate.