Vendee Globe-Akena Vérandas & Skipper Arnaud Boissières

Second in my review of the companies that sponsor IMOCA 60’s in the Vendee Globe

Akena Vérandas & Skipper Arnaud Boissières

Once again this Info gathered is gathered from the Internet so Caveat Emptor

Akena Vérandas is a manufacturer of Verandas…
They are headquartered in the Vendee Region of France-half way down the eastern end of the Bay of Biscay. In fact Google map shows them about 20 miles inland from Les Sable D’lonne and apparently about a block from Rue Eric Tabarly. Yes Toto, the French DO take their sailing heroes seriously. The basin in St. Malo where the boats are gathered for the start of the Route du Rhumb is named for Paul Vatine a Norman lost at sea in the Transat Jacques Vabre in1999.
A brief news bite about A.V posted the site of the Lyon Economic Development site reads as follows. (I think Aderly is the district in which Lyon is sited).
“Convinced of the importance of developing its team spirit around a non work-related event, Akena Vérandas has decided to sponsor Arnaud Boissières who is competing in the Vendée Globe 2008-2009 (my highlight) boat race, bearing the colors of company. The race began on November 9th.
The company began sponsoring skippers of the Vendée Globe back in 2004-2005. Akena Vérandas is the leading manufacturer of verandas in France, with about 80,000 installations a year and 60 million Euros in sales in 2007. The company is continuing its development strategy with the opening of 10 new shops a year through 2010. To meet its needs for expansion, Akena took advantage of Aderly’s assistance to set up a branch to open soon in the Lyon area, in the town of Saint-Priest. Established in 1981, the company is now present all over France.”
Other more recent information I have found says that they have 100,000 installations, have 75 sales offices all over the country with 8 technical centers and have 650 employees.
They further say on their various links that they sponsored their first entry for the Vendee 2004 with Raphaël Dinelli as skipper and although Dinelli did not finish, or count as a finisher, Akena re-up’d, as noted above, again in 2008 this time with Arnaud Boissières as Skipper. Boissières had finished 7th in the Transat, formerly the O.S.T.A.R., earlier in 2008 aboard A.V.
Not only does A.V. sponsor sailing but several other sports too including Soccer, Basketball, Tennis, Cycling and a kind of athletic team (may be race walking) set up as a charity the proceeds of which go to children who are ill.
Arnaud appears to like the number 7. Not only was this his finish place in The Artemis Transat 2008 but also in the 2008/9 Vendee Globe, The Transat Jacques Vabre later in 2009 with Vincent Riou and his finish in the Route du Rhumb in 2010.
So what is interesting here is you have a company with sales of 60 million Euros (OK 5 years ago and the 2008 economic black hole not withstanding) investing, what might be a good chunk of their advertising budget, in a long distance ocean race. Not just once but their sponsorship is on going, even after on their first outing when the boat did not even rank as a finisher. They must have gotten what  they wanted from it because they signed up again in 2008/9 and now again in 2012 AND their guys have not won anything-Yet-The boat they bought is the old PRB, winner in 2008/9.
And these guys build verandas. It is not like they sell a “gotta have”consumer product in demand around the world–or something with deeper pockets, like a bank or insurance company (I’ll get to them-I am going by skipper’s second name alphabetically) AND they keep doing it….

There is hope yet for US solo sailing I reckon.