Altadis Restructures Cigar Division

Altadis U.S.A. Inc., a unit of the world's largest cigar company, Imperial Tobacco PLC, announced today it was changing the management structure of the company. Altadis has created a new premium cigar division in the United States, separating it from the company's mass-market division that sells machine-made cigars.

Javier Estades, who has been the sales and marketing director for Imperial's European and international markets, has been named to the new post of general manager, premium cigars, U.S.A. Estades will report to Fernando Dominguez, the premium cigar director worldwide for Imperial Tobacco Group. The change is effective immediately.

The news of the restructuring comes a few days after Jim Colucci, the executive vice president of sales and marketing for Altadis U.S.A., announced he will retire effective July 31. Colucci has said he may stay on after as a consultant and also said he would work with Estades and Dominguez to help the transition.

"This allows Imperial to give focus to premium cigars, which are a unique product in their overall mix," said Janelle Rosenfeld, vice president of premium cigar marketing and communications for Altadis U.S.A.

Altadis has a considerable mass-market business, and previously that part of the industry was run in tandem with the premium. Theo Folz, the former chairman and chief executive officer of the company, oversaw both sides of the business. Upon Folz's retirement, Gary Ellis was named his successor, and was put in control of machine-made and premium cigar operations. Today's release made no mention of Ellis, who presumably will now oversee Altadis's machine-made operations. Rosenfeld had no comment on Ellis' responsibilities, only saying that he remains president and chief executive officer of Altadis U.S.A.

Altadis U.S.A. makes a host of premium cigars, including the non-Cuban versions of Montecristo, H. Upmann, Romeo y Julieta and Trinidad cigars.

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