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An Interview With Dr. Reto Cina

President and Chief Executive Officer, Oettinger/Davidoff Group
David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Andy Garcia, Mar/April 2004

(continued from page 6)

Q: Do you have an estimate as to how much falsifications cost the company every year?

A:  No.  I don't have an estimate at all.  I only know what we are paying the fees for the lawyer, and it's a lot of money. You end up with almost $600,000 year after year, protecting the brand name all over the world in all the different product categories.


Q: Let's discuss the creation of your newest cigar brand: Zino Platinum. How did the Zino Platinum Crown and Scepter Series projects come about?

A: You remember that in 1983, when we were joining Zino together with the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, the Zino cigar line had a price point of three, four, five dollars. Everybody was saying, 'They are crazy, they will never sell one cigar at that price.' Prices went up, and there is no doubt that we were at that point the first one trying to enter the market with such an upscale price. We always try to be a little step in advance of our competitors. For instance, we are now launching a small Davidoff cigar, Esquisitos, which is the smallest hand-rolled cigar that exists in the world. And with Zino Platinum, we had the first discussions with Peter [Arnell] and Arnell Group three years ago. It takes time, and when we were discussing it at the first meetings, knowing Peter and Arnell and knowing the Swiss people, that's like oil and water. These discussions took more than one year until we founded a 50-50 joint venture. The whole Zino Platinum business is within this company owned 50 percent by Oettinger Imex and 50 by PASS, which is owned by Peter Arnell and Steve Stout.



Q: Who approached whom first?

A: They did. They said, 'We believe that the cigar business needs to be refashioned, rejuvenated and rethought.' We said, ‘Let's take the risk and let's do it in order to try to be once more a step in advance of all of our competitors in the way we were launching and promoting this new cigar line.' Undoubtedly we can say that was a success. Nobody else had ever done the launching of a new line in such a way. Not only pricewise, but in the whole strategy, with a really highly priced predecessor with the Crown line, followed with the -- let's call it the bread and butter line, Scepter, accessible to everybody.


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