The fragrance division of the company posted a 28 per cent increase from last year in sales to CHF401.3m (€246m) for the three months ending 31 March, which, in local currencies showed an increase of 29 per cent. The sales increase has been partly attributed to the lucrative acquisition of Quest back in March, for CHF2.8bn (€1.7bn). Acquired from ICI, the inclusion of the former UK based competitor into its portfolio has pushed Givaudan further forward as a main player in the fragrance field, rivaled only by US group IFF and Swiss supplier Firmenich. On a pro rata basis, as if Quest had been integrated since 1 January, the fragrance division reported a sales growth of CHF530.5m - an 8 per cent growth in Swiss Francs and 8.8 per cent in local currencies. Overall business unit sales for the fragrance ingredients sector of the company were ahead of the prior year 'for the first time since the portfolio rebalancing started'. This increase was partly put down to the introduction of two new ingredient captives, Zinarine and Paradisamide, that stemmed from the Quest research team. Specialty product sales grew double digit as 'the industry increasingly uses Givaudan molecules'. Safraleine, a new molecule with leathery, rosy and tobacco notes, was also introduced to the industry this year and was said to partly aid the high sales growth. In the fine fragrance division, overall sales saw high single digit growth, with sales in Europe and Latin America reporting a double-digit growth, driven by different launches with major customers. Comparably sales in North America declined following high inventories at the end of 2006 that resulted in low sales in specialty retail stores. This then offset the strong sales momentum that had already been established with other customers. The company is predicting successful launches in the next few months to turn around these figures, hoping to ensure this region reaches the same targets as Europe and Latin America. Consumer products fared relatively stronger than the fine fragrance division, posting double-digit growth overall. Boosted predominately by household and air care, with the personal care sector also driving the strong growth. Geographically, China, the Phillipines and India posted the strongest country performance, with growth also achieved across all customer groups in North America. Likewise sales in Asia Pacific grew across all sub-regions. Europe, Africa and the Middle East all showed good growth with local and regional customers. Sales growth in Latin America was said to be mainly driven by Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. The figures mirror the company's recent focus on increasing its foothold into the fragrance sector, viewing it as an area with more potential for expansion, especially compared to the more sedate flavors sector. In line with its expansion plans, the company has recently announced the opening of a new perfume creation centre in East Hannover, US - billed as the most technologically advanced facility of its kind. The company says the investment in the facility, put at €62m, aims to meet strong underlying growth in all strategic product categories, as well as efforts to meet the changing requirements of fragrance players. The project is scheduled to start construction this month and is due for completion in June 2008.