General Grows Again
Last Thursday, General Cigars announced its latest acquisition —Toraño Family Cigars. In a way this is a logical extension for the company. Scandinavian Tobacco Group in 2007 first bought CAO from the Ozgener family. The cigars were made in the Toraño factories in Esteli. The next year, STG purchased Toraño’s factories in both Nicaragua and Honduras. But the Toraño brands were not part of that deal except that STG helped with the distribution of the cigars. In 2010, STG merged with Swedish Match in a joint venture that rolled everything into the General Cigar umbrella. At that time, Toraño took back distribution of the family brands. Toraño has a rich history, dating back to 1916.
“There is a long-standing and proud history of partnership between General Cigar and Toraño, dating back to my family’s exodus from Cuba. There is no other company that I would rather have continue my family’s legacy, and I look forward to seeing the Toraño brands prosper under General Cigar’s expertise,” said Toraño president Charlie Toraño.
When Charlie’s grandfather was in Cuba, he sold tobacco to the Cullman family when it owned General Cigar, then when he fled Cuba in 1960, it was Ramon Cifuentes and General Cigar who gave him his first U.S. job growing Connecticut tobacco which he had been doing in Cuba before his exodus.
Says Dan Carr, president of General Cigar,
“The acquisition of the Toraño brands represents an opportunity for us to strategically expand our portfolio. Our companies have been intertwined for over 50 years and I look forward to working with Charlie Toraño on plans to celebrate the upcoming centennial and to carry forward the vision, passion and innovation that is synonymous with the Toraño name while also leveraging our resources to bring even greater excitement and reach to our trade partners and consumers.”
Both General and Toraño say the blends of the current lines will remain the same. My guess is this is a win for both companies in that General gets another line that can be sold overseas (remember the trademarks for Cohiba, La Gloria Cubana, Punch and Partagas are for the U.S. market only, Cuba has them elsewhere) and Toraño gets wider distribution. The deal was kept fairly secret…even Jack Toraño, Charlie’s cousin who worked for the company, said on Facebook he had no clue. The fast changeover also begs the question of what happens to Sam Leccia’s lines. Toraño had been his distributor for his Luchadore, Leccia White and Leccia Black cigars. Sam says he is working to set up a new distributor.