Benoît Laval

Portrait Benoît LAVAL

Benoît LAVAL

Outdoor activities professional expert and sports enthusiast !

Benoit LAVAL is passionate about mountains and running, which he has been doing competitively since the age of 10, and has developed a taste for entrepreneurship and management since his studies and military service at Saint-Cyr-Coëtquidan.

A textile engineer, he has built his life around these passions: creation of the Raidlight company in 1999, takeover of the Vertical brand in 2010, creation of the Trail Resort and Touring Ski Area tourist networks in 2011 and 2012, creation of the “made in France” production workshop INO-Fab in 2015.

In order to pursue the international growth of Raidlight and Vertical, these companies joined the Rossignol Ski Group in 2016. After two years as Vice President Outdoor of the Rossignol Ski Group, Benoit LAVAL will resign due to differences in strategic views in February 2019 for new projects.

After a world tour, training at HEC, INSEAD, and training as a certified professional coach at the Ecole Supérieure du Coaching, Benoit LAVAL bought Raidlight which became an independent company in August 2020.

His sporting achievements have been built up alongside these activities: 2nd in the Grand Raid de la Réunion in 2003, 9th in the Marathon des Sables in 2004, French Trail Team in 2010, Ultra-Trail 400km de Gobi in 2015, Barkley in 2016…

The installation in 2011 in the heart of the mountains in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse is a turning point in the personal and entrepreneurial quest for meaning, a life project in the mountains as much as professional projects linked to the development of local territorial politics.


  • Engineer, product creation, product and service innovation, co-conception with users
  • Project Management, entrepreneurship, business creation, corporate strategy for growing businesses
  • Digital communication, participatory marketing
  • Territorial economic and touristic development.

Key figures

  • More than 200 trail races done in 26 countries, including about 50 victories.
  • Raidlight-Vertical end of 2018 : a turnover of 10M€, 55 employees,
  • INO-Fab end of 2018 : 12 jobs created in the textile production in France
  • Trail Stations /Ski touring areas end of 2018 : 4 employees, 40 sites


Born on May the 14th, 1972, married, father of 2 kids.

Originally from Paris region (but with roots from Correze), Benoit LAVAL was 18 years old, in 1982, when he decided to follow the steps of his father, a Marathon runner, and began the journey with friends with whom he was running on Wednesday afternoons. On the tracks. 1.000 m, 1.500 m, 3.000 m steeplechases were his first preferred fields. He was swallowing up the miles like others lift weights. Just for fun. His love of mountains was already being fed during holiday. The adventure began in August 1993 while packing an ultra-light backpack, with the idea of crossing the Pyrenees from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean sea, in three week’s time, in solo mode, running…

After 5 years of engineering studies at the École supérieure des techniques industrielles et des textiles (ESTIT) in Lille, where he graduates first («Major of Promotion» or «Valedictorian»), he begins his military service in Saint-Cyr school in Coëtquidan, where he also graduates first, to become an Alpine chasseur Officer in Bourg-Saint-Maurice : he seizes the opportunity to go running and climbing mountains, to discover (at last) cross-country skiing and mountaineering practices, in high dose.

To stay close to his playing field, he decides to settle in Rhône-Alpes, and finds an exciting job in a company in Saint-Etienne that conceives and produces backpacks, tents and sleeping bags for major brands.

1999 - Creation of Raidlight

In 1999, at the age of 27, he combines his love for outdoor sports with his young professional experience, to create – in addition to his work – the brand and company Raidlight (clothes, backpacks, shoes, accessories for running and Trail activities). The brand of sports goods begins with 15.000€, about ten products, and a sheer boldness to enter a market dominated by major international groups.

At this point, his palmares was evolving on two complementary lines. His sporting and corporate successes have grown together, in the same direction. Sports practipe brings Raidlight forward and the company’s needs get him to participate in more running races around the world, like the Marathon des Sables, the Annapurna Mandala Trail, the Grand Raid in La Réunion…

Raidlight leads the way using ground-breaking methods : expertise in « open innovation » by 2008 (collaborative innovation with users), social communication around a large community of users by 2008 (more than 6.000 members). Innovation, boldness, eco-responsibility, ethical and human values are at the core of Raidlight activities and key elements to its development. With an uninterrupted double-digit growth since 1999, Raidlight reaches 15 employees and a turnover of 1,2M€ in 2009, and realizes its first fund-raising.

At the same time, Benoit LAVAL’s palmares in Trail running flourishes with multiple victories during prestigious events, reaching the 2nd position in the Grand Raid of La Réunion, the 9th position in the Marathon des Sables, and becomes France Trail running Vice-Champion in 2009 and a member of the French Trail running team in 2010. Multi-faceted athlete, he was also a French Snowshoe Champion, Pierra-Menta mountaineering winner in mixed category, awarded the Orienteering Marathons World Trophy, ran more than 200 Trail races in more than 20 countries, and in a playful sight, took part in races to climb the Empire State Building and Eiffel Towel stairs…

2010 - Takeover of Vertical / Merger with Raidlight

In 2010 Benoît LAVAL acquires Vertical, a brand specializing in hiking and mountaineering clothes and equipments (merger of the two companies in 2011). In 2011 he decides to settle the new company Raidlight-Vertical in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, in the heart of the mountains (30mns away from Grenoble, 1 hour and 15 mns from Lyon), inside an « Outdoor LAB » building tailored to welcome the company’s clients so they may take part in products design and testing, and also, to have his staff and own family benefit from the quality of life in the region.

In addition to welcoming sports enthusiasts so they can share their endeavour for running, Benoît LAVAL works with the local communities to develop the 1st Trail Station in 2011 (reception area, marked tracks, communication, services related to Trail practice), and the 1st Ski touring area in 2012. These new concepts bring more than 15.000 visitors each year in Chartreuse, and have been rewarded with various prizes for their sense of local economic and touristic development. As the President of the association, Benoit LAVAL actively participates in the genesis of these networking concepts, willing, in the future, to promote and commercialize them. In 2017 the network gathers 30 members territories in France, Spain, Belgium, and employs 4 people to totalize approximately 500K€ of benefits.

2015 - Raidlight-Vertical creates the « Outdoor INO-Fab ».

In 2015, Raidlight-Vertical creates the « Outdoor INO-Fab », an ambitious project aimed at producing made in France clothes, backpacks, and shoes for Trail and Outdoor activities. Whereas 99% of thexe textile goods is produced beyond our borders, Raidlight-Vertical is staying close to the idea that first came with its Made in France product line back in 2009. The project development had been chosen by the Ministry of Economic Regeneration in 2013 to initiate a co-financing :  by 2015, the «Outdoor INO-FAB » had created 8 job positions, with the objective of creating 25 jobs before 2019.

Benoit LAVAL is personally involved in the territorial policy, being Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse city councillor and a member of Conseil Montagne 2040 (advisory body of the Regional Council of Rhône-Alpes) from 2013 to 2016, and is often invited to share his experience on territorial development, for example being invited at the Senate in June 2015.

2016 - Raidlight-Vertical joins Groupe Rossignol

In 2016, following an uninterrupted doubl-digit growth since 1999, in order to pursue Raidlight-Vertical international growth, the company joins Groupe Skis Rossignol, world leader in the skiing industry (a turnover of about 400M€ and 1500 employees worldwide). Benoit LAVAL also becomes Vice-President for the Group’s Outdoor activities.

Nevertheless, Benoit LAVAL reinforces his dedication to Outdoor and Trail activities, participating in numerous Trail races in France and abroad. For instance reaching the 5th position back in September, 2015 during the Gobi Race Ultra Trail (non-stop 250mile in Gobi desert in China), or again being one of the participants of the notorious Barkley Marathons in 2016-2017-2018, which is said to be the toughest run in the world… and he uses these efforts to grow professionally, as a true motor of life, inspiration, as a tool for market observation and understanding, and therefore innovation.

2018 - Raidlight-Vertical markets more than 500.000 products each year

Raidlight-Vertical markets more than 500.000 products each year. Besides France, the company exports 28% of its production (Europe, Japan, China), and has a turnover of 10 million euros, and more than 50 employees.


2019 - Resignation from Raidlight/Rossignol

Following disagreements regarding the group strategies,  Benoit LAVAL decides to resign from Groupe Skis Rossignol and Raidlight.

Benoit LAVAL is looking forward to starting on new projects, and is already investigating new activities that may give rise to new challenges, considering his already large experience  : consulting, investments, business creation or recovery.

2019 - Trainings and world tour travel

Benoit LAVAL is taking advantage of these few months of hindsight in 2019 and 2020 to :

  • take a two-month world tour in 2019 to seek new inspiration,
  • follow training courses in digital marketing at INSEAD (INSEAD Certificate in Global Management) and in finance at HEC (HEC Executive Education),
  • as well as training to become a certified professional coach at the Ecole Supérieure de Coaching.

2020 - Acquisition of NED - Nature Extreme Development

In June 2020, Benoit LAVAL took over the sports travel agency NED (Nature Extrême Développement), created in 1995 by Serge MOREL. NED organises half a dozen Trail races per year abroad. Benoit LAVAL combines in this project his passions of Trail, travels, and race organization.

2020 - Take over of Raidlight

In August 2020, the covid generates an opportunity to buy Raidlight from Rossignol Group. Benoit LAVAL takes over Raidlight and Vertical with a pool of shareholders and becomes again President of Raidlight.