Lafuma Group reported a net loss of €700,000 ($1.0 mm) for the half year ended March 31, down from net income of €1.6 million ($2.3 mm). Operating profits for the group, which includes the Lafuma, Millet, Le Chameau and Oxbow brands, plummeted 82.4% for the first half to €800,000 ($1.2 mm).

Lafuma attributed falling profits to a tough environment and continued investing to grow its global business, including its recently announced acquistion of Eider. The group’s turnover, or sales, rose 0.6% to €120.7 million ($177.8 mm) for the period.

Lafuma said business slowed and profits fell in 3 of its 4 divisions as a slowing economy and a long winter stunted growth. The noteworthy exception was Asia, where sales grew by 17%.

With the exception of outdoor lifestyle apparel maker Le Chameau, the rest of Lafuma's divisions reported declines in profitability over the first half of the fiscal year.

At the brand level, Oxbow invested in eight new stores and international markets, whle Lafuma is expected to become profitable in 2009. Profits will improve at Millet at the end of the fiscal year. At Le Chameau, improved margins and sales growth in the back half of the year will improve profits.

Lafuma disclosed that Eider, a winter/snowsports apparel company it is acquiring to round out its Mountain division, posted sales of €21.3 million ($29.2 mm) in 2007. Lafuma will invest €1.5 million in the company and take on debt held by mezzanine investor Paris-Orleans, Eider’s de facto shareholder.