A LATE Easter has been blamed for Nestlé’s slowest first three months trade in five years.

The Swiss confectionery giant, which makes Kit Kats, Yorkies and other chocolate bars from its factory in York, had generated global sales of £14.1 billion for the first quarter of 2014.

The international company saw European sales of £2.4 billion, though confectionery in the region was affected by the late Easter with France, Germany and the UK seeing a slower start to the year.

However despite the slowest Q1 since 2009 bosses say the full year outlook remains unchanged, with first-quarter organic growth of 4.2 per cent, exceeding market expectations of four per cent, and set to rise to five per cent by the end of the year.

Paul Bulcke, Nestlé’s chief executive, said: “Our organic growth in the first months of the year was in line with expectations and driven by volume rather than price. The continued roll-out of new products, along with good execution, sustained this growth in difficult market conditions. “We will keep up the pace of innovation, while further strengthening support for our brands.

“We confirm our outlook for the full year: performance weighted to the second half, outperforming the market, with organic growth around five per cent and improvements in margins, underlying earnings per share in constant currencies and capital efficiency. We expect the continued strengthening of the Swiss Franc to have a negative impact on reported sales.”