We understand that another Frenchman, Olivier Cantet, has taken the place of Frank Heissat as vice president and general manager of Oakley for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), who has left the company after three years to run a French sportswear brand, Le Coq Sportif. Like Heissat, Cantet will be based in Zurich.

Luxottica has not yet made an official announcement about Cantet's appointment. The 47-year-old manager left an Australian surf brand, Rip Curl, at the beginning at this year after ten years during which he acted as European manager and global chief executive. Under his management, Rip Curl Europe developed its own line of sports sunglasses, featuring very advanced concepts, but it then dropped the project and kept a more mass-market international line in its stores, offering Oakley sunglasses on the side as a premium line.

Like Le Coq Sportif (more about this company in our Sporting Goods Intelligence Europe newsletter), Oakley is taking a strong role as a sponsor of the current Tour de France cycling tournament, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. It is paying homage to the country that hosts the event with a limited edition of sports glasses carrying the blue, white and red colors of the French flag. The line, which is based on Oakley's Radar Lock and Half Jacket models, is being worn by seven competitors in the race.

In connection with the tournament, Oakley has organized a dedicated marketing campaign, “Conquer the Road” and a related challenge, inviting customers to compete for a weekend at the Tour de France by sending a picture of a road that they have cycled on. Cycling fans have been offered an opportunity to join a professional rider and to have their experience filmed and broadcast by Eurosport.

In another sports-related marketing initiative, Oakley took its Oakley Surf Shop Challenge to Europe for the first time last month, starting with France and Spain: The employees of five selected surf shops from southwest France and two from the rest of the country were invited to face one another and the team of a selected English store on the waves of Anglet between June 6 and 7. Then, on June 9 and 10, the teams of five shops in the Spanish Basque region and two from the rest of Spain competed against each other and a Portuguese surf shop off the coast of San Sebastian. A French surf shop that claims to be the largest of the kind in Europe with its 1,500 square meters of sales surface, SB3 at Labenne, became the first European Oakley Surf Shop Champion, which was then invited to the ASP WCT Oakley Pro in Bali. The brand has been staging a national Oakley Surf Shop Challenge on the beaches of Southern California every year since the 1980s. It has evolved over the years to include seven qualifying regional events, culminating in the surf championship in Bali.