The recent acquisitions of ToraÃ±o Cigars and Leccia Tobacco by General Cigar have created a large amount of buzz in the cigar community. Theories are flying from all angles as to why and what and so on. Many are speculating that the FDA might have been a driving factor, while some feel it may have just been a smart financial business move. There are also plenty who fear the possibility of re-blending could â€œruinâ€ what are wildly popular and successful cigars.
As we look at General Cigar as a company we see a large portfolio of cigars, most of which are those that had rise during the cigar boom of the 90s but really haven’t splashed big in the modern market. General is the name behind the domestic lines of Cohiba, Partagas, Bolivar, Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, and La Gloria Cubana which was acquired from Ernesto Perez Carrillo; the CAO brand is another recent years purchase by General Cigar. General is also behind the infamous White Owl brand but we will leave that alone. General Cigar is a subsidiary of the tobacco giant Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG), formerly Swedish Match, Â who distributes various tobacco products across Europe and the Americas. With all these resources at hand, General still has not been able to make a big hit cigar in quiet some time.
Bringing ToraÃ±o into the portfolio is a move that makes sense for new marketing. ToraÃ±o is a brand that performs well and is very popular, this has the possibility to do very well for General Cigar. As far as the why on the ToraÃ±o end of the deal, at this point it really doesn’t matter. As it appears that Charlie ToraÃ±o will be a consultant, you have to assume that the continuity of the ToraÃ±o line is something that General Cigar will strive for. ToraÃ±o also brings a family name to the table, a name that has been in the cigar industry for many years, not just here in the United States, but Cuba as well. One thing that I don’t believe is true is the FDA hype. While the move would be very smart for ToraÃ±o, if that were true, it would be a very bad deal for General to take on a small company making mostly sub $10 cigars. If this was a fear then you would have to assume the money was spent by General just to more than likely have to scrap the brand after regulations went through. General Cigar is a large company with very smart businessmen running it, they are not going to throw money away like that.
The second shocker was the acquisition of Leccia Tobacco. This one is a bit different for General Cigar as they did not just get the brand but also the name behind it, in fact that would be the most valuable asset from this deal. Sam Leccia broke back in to the cigar scene a couple of years ago with the release of the Leccia Black and White, both cigars were huge hits. Earlier this year Leccia released another huge hit in the Luchador. Aside from the cigars, Sam himself is a rock star of sorts in the cigar industry. Leccia is a very down to earth guy who has a serious passion for tobacco on a geek level. He is also a family man that puts his wife and kids first in all he does. Sam has a personality that takes over anywhere he is, for a small dude he can be a large character. If you take Sam’s knowledge of tobacco and passion for the industry, then couple that with his personality, you have a recipe for success. General Cigar has gained vastly in this deal, they get an amazing blender, and a face for the company, something they have never really had.
When you put all of this together it really starts to come together. General Cigar is not prepping for the FDA, small guys are not selling out, brands are growing. General Cigar has access to tobacco that we could never even begin to imagine, at a blender like Leccia to that and you have to anticipate what is coming in the future. I personally think this move is the beginning of a new era for General Cigars. I believe that we will start to see re-branding within General and possible so re-blending now with Leccia. This is just the start of a turn around for General Cigar. I know that if I was going to bring my company out of the dark ages, there are few people other than Sam Leccia I would want to help me with that. I look to see General Cigar come out firing next year at IPCPR, and honestly I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I am looking forward to it.