NEW YORK — Elizabeth Arden’s gamble on pop diva Britney Spears, who is frequent fodder for the tabloid press these days, is paying off handsomely. The September launch of Spears’ Curious scent — billed by the company as ranking number one in U.S. department stores — spurred first-quarter sales 6.6 percent to $212.2 million, up from $199 million in the year-earlier period.

Arden also credits the performance of the Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman fragrance, which bowed in the U.S. last spring and in international markets in September, as well as the uptick in travel retail and Canadian markets for the sales increase. The company stated sales were offset somewhat by hurricanes that affected Southeastern retailers, but does not expect those losses to impact year-end results.

— M.P.

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