In its annual report, published yesterday, the company says that sales for the whole company grew by 9.7 per cent in local currency and by 8.6 per cent in Swiss Francs, to reach CHF 2.5bn (€1.49bn). In the report the company says that it remains committed to financial independence, and will continue to remain 100 per cent owned by the Firmenich family, ensuring that it remains almost unique in an industry dominated by publicly listed players. The report also stated that during the last year it has been making concerted efforts to improve its safety and quality records, although it was also noted that there was still room for improvement. The company said that its fragrance operations returned double digit sales growth, with the most important new market introductions proving to be in its fine fragrances in the mainstay US and European markets. However, the company did also point out that body care sales were particularly robust, with perfumes for toilet soap and body wash proving to be particularly successful, further backed up by fragrance sales for hair care products. Likewise sales also rose for fragrance ingredients, with specific products earmarked for particular attention including Hedione, Cetalox and Rose Ketonea. The company also pointed out that it had increased production of ingredients such as Hedione as shortages hit the international market. On a geographical basis the company pointed out that the emerging markets have continued to boost growth figures, with Latin America, the Middle East and Africa being singled out in particular. Sales in Western Europe also proved robust, in line with overall economic growth within the European Union. However, with the continuing dampening of retail spend in the US, the company described sales growth in the North American region as being 'more moderate'. During the year the company introduced two new fragrance ingredients and a total of eight natural extracts, while the newly introduced Popscent encapsulation technology was said to have been a success. Firmenich is currently the third largest fragrance and flavours company in the world, behind fellow Swiss company Givaudan and US-based International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF). Early this year Firmenich increased its footprint in the flavours segment with the purchase of the flavours division of Danish ingredients company Danisco - a move that has helped to increase its presence both in Europe and internationally.