The Rossignol group estimates that it has gained market leadership in alpine and Nordic skiing and become the second-largest player in the market for alpine skiing boots with the Rossignol and Lange brands, after the Amer Sports group and before Tecnica and Nordica.

Bruno Cercley, Rossignol's chief executive, says that pre-orders of alpine skis for the French brand in the coming season ranged from flat to a decline of 2 percent, compared with an estimated drop of 5 to 6 percent for the global market due to the inventories left over from the warm winter last year. Rossignol performed well in France and it benefited from strong investments in the Austrian market in the last three years, which led to a sharp sales increase at the higher end of the market.

The estimate was shared with a group of visitors last month at the head office of Time Sport International in Voreppe, as the Rossignol group outlined its plans for the development of the French road cycling brand acquired by its holding company earlier this year (see the story below). The snow made an unusually early appearance in the French Alps that week, leading at least one prominent resort to open for the weekend.

Rossignol had sales of €242.5 million for the full year until the end of March, with sales of about 880,000 pairs of alpine skis and 62,000 snowboards. The turnover amounted to a small increase compared with €241 million the previous year. Rossignol estimates its share of the global alpine skiing market for the 15/16 season at 24.1 percent, up from 22.3 percent the previous year. Its estimated market share advanced by 6 percentage points in France and by 1.7 percentage points to 13.7 percent for Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. The estimates further suggest that Rossignol's market share in alpine skiing advanced by 0.9 percentage points to 24.1 percent in North America.

Cercley was pleased the most about the group's performance in alpine ski boots, with a jump of 18 percent in sell-in for the 15/16 winter season. The group estimates its share in the global market for alpine ski boots at 18.6 percent for the sell-in in the 2015/16 season, up from 17.7 percent in the previous year. This includes a share of 33.2 percent in France, up from an estimate of 28.1 percent. Other estimated market shares are 11.7 percent for Germany, 8.1 percent for Austria, 19.4 percent for Italy, 13.4 percent for Switzerland and 21.1 percent for North America – all on the rise apart from Italy.

Another part of the development is apparel, for which Rossignol has established a separate business unit and opened several stores. The latest was opened on 120 square meters in Lyon last month, the first one to be situated in a city center, while the others are in prominent ski resorts, from Courmayeur to Megève, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Crans-Montana, Saint-Moritz, Méribel, Val Thorens and Chamonix.

The third leg of the group's development is its effort to make the business less seasonal, which already led to the acquisition of Time International and a majority stake in Raidlight, a French company specializing in trail running products. Rossignol previously considered the production of board sports equipment at its factory in Artés, in Spain, but apparently found the potential underwhelming. On the other hand, CMD Sport reports that Rossignol is preparing to launch its first range of pádel racquets in 2017. The Rossignol brand's distributor in Spain, Megasport, told the publication that the French brand would be positioned in the crowded market for pádel racquets as a quality offering, taking advantage of the advanced production technology at the Artés plant.  

Cercley made it clear that Rossignol is interested in further acquisitions, particularly in the bicycle market, in order to leverage its resources. He said that it's one of the group's ambitions to become a major player in this market, which clearly couldn't be achieved with Time alone in the coming years.