Le Coq Sportif, the French sports brand, has hired two high-profile sports executives to head up a newly-established North American subsidiary, based in Portland. As a general manager of Le Coq USA the company has appointed Tim McCool, who comes with 25 years of experience at Nike, Reebok and Adidas. In his last executive position McCool was director of apparel sales at Adidas America, but in 2003 he pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the Just For Feet case and was hit by a harsh jail sentence. A previous general manager of Le Coq for the country, Jon Epstein, was indicted in the same case and he now has an executive position at Fila USA.

McCool brought along Kip Meyer, head of sports marketing at Adidas America until 2005, who is joining Le Coq USA as chief financial officer. The move comes a few months after Le Coq, which has been under new ownership since September 2005, bought out U.S. distribution rights that had been attributed to Itochu, the Japanese trading company. Itochu delivered its last batches of Le Coq Sportif products earlier this year. After a small market void, the new subsidiary will launch its first range for the Spring 2008 season.

Le Coq Sportif will shortly unveil more detailed plans for its international expansion. Antoine Sathicq, chief executive, has been quoted as saying that the brand’s sales could multiply ten-fold over the next 5 years. It has embarked on a recruitment drive that should lift the number of employees from about 140 to 250 or 300 in the same period. Instead of building on the brand’s heritage in football, it will concentrate more strongly on rugby, tennis, training and lifestyle products.

In the meantime Airesis, the Swiss holding company that owns Le Coq Sportif, has bought out minority shareholders in Boards & More, the surf and snowboarding company in which it already owned a 66 percent controlling stake. All the remaining minority shareholders, an array of companies and individuals, have agreed to swap their Boards & More stakes for new Airesis shares, to be issued and listed at the end of May. The transaction will involve 1.35 million new shares, worth about 2.4 million Swiss francs (€1.5m-$1.9m) at the current price, placing the total worth of Boards & More at just CHF 7.2 million (€4.4m-$5.9m). The deal will be only slightly dilutive as the new shares will represent about 2.8 percent of Airesis shares after the transaction.