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Here comes the rooster: Le Coq Sportif opening subsidiary in Oregon

Here comes the rooster: Le Coq Sportif opening subsidiary in Oregon

Le Coq Sportif is back, and it's making its roost in Oregon.
The parent company of the French apparel and footwear company announced it has repurchased North American distribution rights for Le Coq Sportif and is opening the company's first wholly owned U.S. subsidiary in Portland.
Le Coq Sportif was once a must-have for the country club set, easily recognized by its triangular rooster icon. But it largely fell off the scene in recent decades.
The company struggled, changing ownership and distributors several times. It was owned by Adidas AG for more than 40 years until it was sold to Brown Shoe Co. in 1995 and sold once again in 1999 to a French holding company.
The ever-changing hands made the company and brand disjointed, said Tim McCool, a former Adidas executive who is now heading Le Coq Sportif North America as chief executive officer.
Then, Swiss investment fund Airesis bought Le Coq Sportif in 2006. The company put new management in place in France, and Le Coq Sportif's bookings for the fall 2007 season doubled in Europe.
Now with complete ownership of its North American distribution rights, the company said it is ready to take its brand global with a renewed focus in the United States.
The company will introduce its spring 2008 North American line at trade shows this summer. The products sold here will be largely identical to those sold in Europe.
"We have to stay very authentic and true to our roots," McCool said. "It needs to come from France."
The privately held company did make a stab at the United States market in 2005, but McCool said the ever-changing distributorship and lack of marketing failed to secure the brand's identity here.
Le Coq Sportif will be neighbors to Nike Inc., based in Beaverton, and Adidas, which has its U.S. operations in Portland.
While those companies sell at big retailers, Le Coq Sportif says it will market itself as a luxury brand, going after sales in fashion boutiques, tennis clubs, private athletic clubs and resorts.
"Clearly ... the U.S. doesn't need just another brand," McCool said. "We need to be different, we want to be very European, and we want to be very exclusive."
McCool said the dominance of large brands and retailers has created a consumer desire for new products and niche brands. He points to the growth of specialty stores and malls in the past few years as evidence.
Additionally, he said the market is ready for Le Coq Sportif because of increased desire for brands with heritage.
According to NPD Group Inc., a market research company, fashion is the driving trend in the market. In footwear alone, fashion-focused products are one of the fastest-growing segments and the second-largest athletic shoe category.
However, Le Coq Sportif will face tough competition from Fila and Puma, both fashion-oriented sporting brands with European ties that have gone through major corporate changes recently.
Privately held Le Coq Sportif North America, which will debut its products in Miami, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles before expanding elsewhere, declined to release the exact size of its U.S. work force or financial goals.


Updated : 2021-10-26 04:09 GMT+08:00