Gear > Manufacturers > Rossignol

Rossignol was founded in 1907 by Abel Rossignol in the small town of Voiron to the west of Grenoble. The firm made bobbins for weaving looms but Hadel was passionate about skiing. In 1911 he started a small production run and this site of affairs continued for the next four decades. The produced a racing ski for Emile Allais in 1936.

The French textile industry was in decline after and with the development of downhill skiing in France his son saw the potential of this market. Abel Rossignol died in 1954 and the business suffered from cash flow problems and was on the point of bankruptcy. Olympic champion Emile Allais, a consultant for the firm, looked around for someone to invest in the business. He knew a grocer from Moûtiers. Laurent Boix-Vives was a hard-headed businessman and was a genius with figures. Rossignol was valued at 630,000 France, Boix-Vives raised 250,000 Francs and agreed with the Commercial Court to take over the business on that basis. A reorganisation followed, 120 of the staff were fired, the bobbin business was shut down and the remaining 30 employees were put to work on making skis.

Success followed in 1960 when Jean Vuarnet took Olympic gold at Squaw valley on a pair of Rossignol wooden/metal skis. The Allais 60. In 1964 the Strato ski was launched, the first ski with a fibreglass core. At the 1966 Ski World Cup at Portillo in Chile Annie Famous took the slalom. The ski would go on to sell a million pairs. Only two other skis have done the same, both from the Rossignol stable. In 1967 the firm took control of Dynastar Skis and opened factories in Switzerland, Italy, the USA and his ancestral home of Spain. The 1970s were a period of growth with a listing on the Paris stock exchange. The firm became world leaders in ski manufacture in 1972. Rossignol moved into Nordic skiing and acquired Lange, a ski boot manufacturer in 1989 and Look? bindings in 1994. More recently the firm has diversified, especially into golf and bought Cleveland Golf in 1990 as well as acquiring Emery who manufacture snowboard bindings and Grand Chavin who own the Hot, Hammer and A-Snowboard brands.

However in the late 1990s the firm failed to capitalize on growth areas such as Roller Blading has suffered from a decline in the snowboard market and was burdened by debts of €120 million. In March 2005 Laurent Boix-Vives sold the business to Quiksilver for €236.5 million to create a $2.6 billion sports and apparel business. His daughters were apparently uninterested in running the firm. Boix-Vives joined Quiksilver's board and became president of the company's golf business.

Further Information

Website: Bio of Jean Vuarnet

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