Airesis, the Swiss holding company that controls Le Coq Sportif and Boards & More, made yet more losses in the first half of this year as it continued to invest forcefully in the expansion of the French brand. The losses reached 10.5 million Swiss francs (€6.3m-$8.9m)for the 6-month period and the efforts required a capital increase of 5.6 million CHF (€3.4m-$4.8m) at Le Coq Sportif in July. The transaction raised the share of Airesis to 78 percent of Le Coq’s capital.

Le Coq already posted losses last year as it recruited scores of employees and bought out distribution agreements in France, Spain and Italy. The latest investments are illustrated by the marketing efforts around the Rugby World Cup, which Le Coq Sportif has earmarked as one of its key sports. Called “Rugby or not to be,” the quirky campaign makes use of the French player Frederic Michalak, a key member of the current French squad, and Jean-Pierre Rives, a former French player.

The big investments being made on the brand have caused Le Coq’s revenues to soar. They jumped by more than 57 percent to 30.8 million CHF (€18.6m-$26.2m)for the period, boosted by increased sales in France, Italy and Spain. In line with the management’s plans, these three core countries now account for 47 percent of the brand’s global sales, compared with just 20 percent at the same time last year. On the other hand, the investments caused operating losses of 8.8 million CHF (€5.3m-$7.5m)at Le Coq, wider than the loss of 4.9 million CHF recorded in the same period a year ago.

After several restructuring moves, Boards & More lifted its sales by nearly 14 percent to 34.9 million CHF (€21.1m-$29.7m) during the 1st half, and it sharply reduced its operating losses to 0.4 million CHF (€0.2m-$0.3m), as compared to 3.2 million CHF at the same time last year.

As a group, Airesis thus raised its total sales by 30.4 percent to 65.7 million CHF (€39.7m-$56.0m), while its operating losses narrowed marginally to 9.6 million CHF (€5.8m-$8.2m), compared with operating losses of 9.8 million CHF in the 1st half of 2006.

In a small capital reshuffle, Yves Marchand, former general manager of Adidas France, withdrew last month from the shareholders’ pact that controls Airesis. This pact previously consisted of Robert Louis-Dreyfus, former shareholder and chairman of Adidas; Marc-Henri Beausire, current general manager of Airesis; and Marchand. While the latter exited, an investment firm, Petrus Finance, took up 10.3 percent of Airesis’ capital and entered the shareholders’ pact, which now controls 50.04 percent of Airesis. The leading investors behind Petrus Finance are Beausire and Pierre Duboux.