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Colibri Blings It On

Alejandro Benes
Posted: August 4, 2006
For Colibri, whatever happened in Vegas, will not, the company hopes, stay in Vegas. One of the world's most prominent manufacturers of lighters, Colibri was clearly emphasizing variety at this year's Retail Tobacco Dealers of America in Las Vegas. In addition to its traditional business line of lighters, Colibri showed off new products in its collection of men's jewelry in an effort to better meet the "challenges faced by tobacconists today."

"Sales are helped by these products," said Les Mann, executive vice president for marketing of The Colibri Group, who pointed to the actions of many state legislatures in curbing smoking in public and to national security concerns about transporting lighters on airlines as reasons the company was seeking to "accessorize the cigar smoker."

"We're looking to create a men's department in the tobacco store," Mann added.

If the response at the Vegas show is any indication -- Mann said that the company met "150 percent" of its sales goal -- Colibri has hit on a popular idea with its line of matching bracelets, money clips, key chains, pocket watches, cuff links and lighters.

"Colibri has always had men's jewelry, and men's jewelry is our fastest-growing line," said Caprice Martin, brand manager for Colibri, who said the line had seen double-digit growth over each of the last three years. "Now, we're focusing on the brand as a perfect fit for cigar smokers. The jewelry is really an extension of the cigar lifestyle."

That idea was generally well received by most of the tobacco dealers walking the floor at the RTDA show. They said sales of lighters were a little bit down. Many believed Colibri's jewelry line had a clean, masculine design that could help bring people into their stores, but some wondered how to let consumers know such products were being offered. Mann said that Colibri's 45 national sales representatives will help stores set up full displays of the jewelry in one-foot-cube cases. Martin explained that the displays will make the product stand out and appeal to the cigar customer who is looking for gifts as well as buying for themselves.

The Colibri line contains stainless steel, titanium and carbon fiber, among other substances, and has a classic and classy black and silver scheme. Prices are fairly competitive, generally between $45 and $100 for individual pieces. Key chains are the least pricey, with bracelets ranging higher.

Martin's background is fashion and apparel. She got into men's jewelry when she joined Colibri two years ago.

"It's a new field for me," Martin said. "Men's jewelry is cooler. The technology is cooler."

Colibri's Web site (www.colibri.com) shows off much of the "cooler" product line. Check out the bike chain bracelet in stainless steel and rubber. Very Tour de France, n'est-ce pas? You'll also be able to see the bling yourself in three months. Colibri plans to feature its men's jewelry in November at the Big Smokes in Vegas and New York City.

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