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French snowsports firm Rossignol to buy Felt Bicycles

PARIS, Feb 3 (Reuters) - French snowsports equipment firm Rossignol has agreed to buy Felt Bicycles, a U.S. maker of racing and mountain bikes with annual sales of more than $60 million, the company said on Friday.

“If we can double that (sales figure) within five years, it would not be bad,” Rossignol Chief Executive Bruno Cercley told Reuters.

“Cycling is a very natural extension of Rossignol’s business as well as complementary in seasonality,” he added.

Rossignol has expanded into fashion and more recently cycling in order to reduce its dependency on snowsports, buying French bike maker Time Sport International in 2015, a business that generates 10 million euros ($10.8 million) in sales.

Overall, Cercley said he hoped Rossignol can triple revenue from cycling activities within four to five years.

The privately-held Felt Bicycles company is known for its cutting-edge mountain and racing bikes with which athletes have won World Championships and Olympic gold medals.

While demand for ski equipment has ebbed in the past decade, as more people hire rather than buy skis, the global bicycle market, worth some 30-40 billion euros, is growing at between 2 and 4 percent per year, according to Cercley.

Currently Rossignol still makes the bulk of its 243 million euros of annual sales from ski equipment, with clothing accounting for just 10 percent. It makes 75 percent of its sales outside France, including 31 percent in north America.

It competes with Fischer, Head and Amer Sports’ Atomic and Salomon brands and accounts for 24 percent of the world ski equipment market.

Its brands also include ski maker Dynastar, Lange boots and Look bindings.

Rossignol had suffered for years from weak demand but returned to profit in 2010 after cutting jobs, scaling back its production facilities and paring down its product lines.

The company is majority owned by private equity firm Altor while private equity firm Sandbridge Capital and Rossignol managers have minority stakes. ($1 = 0.9265 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Pascale Denis; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Greg Mahlich)