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Richard L. DiMeola

Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Consolidated Cigar Corporation
From the Print Edition:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Summer 96

(continued from page 29)

CA: And when is this happening?

DiMeola: Within 90 days.

CA: So this is a great opportunity to tell the world, because this issue is published in June.

DiMeola: I'll tell you this much. We see the increased interest among women in cigars. And we also see the increase in publicity surrounding women smoking. It's a natural. So when we talk to women, we find that they like small cigars and they like big cigars. Well, we already make small cigars and big cigars; so there is nothing to talk about. We said, why not create a cigar specifically designed for women? Now we have something to talk about, and look at all the publicity we're going to get. So we're going to take it and put it in one of our brands, Don Diego, and we're going to have the Cleopatra shape in the Don Diego brand; and it's going to be specifically pointed at women. You're going to see more and more publicity surrounding women smoking. Whether or not a real business can be built catering to women, I don't know. I believe that women are more occasional users of cigars than the young men today.

CA: The question is whether or not they want to be separated out, having their own cigar, versus smoking what everyone else does.

DiMeola: Whether they do or whether they don't, it doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is--I'm not interested in the business that I can get in Cleopatra shapes, per se. I'm interested more in the publicity we can get from it. I was talking to a reporter about the cigar business once and they asked me the same question about women, and I told them that I was creating the Cleopatra shapes and it appeared in an article--some obscure article somewhere--and we're already getting calls about it.

CA: So this will be sold through normal channels?

DiMeola: Yes.

CA: Last question before we wrap up. Montecristo--the largest-selling Cuban brand in the world. You have the rights to it. In the last few years you have introduced a Dominican version of it. One could argue that you're increasing your production radically, but in fact it's only available at a limited number of outlets. One could claim that you aren't making it available to the total market. A lot of people would like to try it. What plans do you have to accelerate the production and the distribution of the cigar--to be as widely available as a major national brand?

DiMeola: One of the problems, as you know, is making enough cigars. Our traditional brands that have been in the market for years have been increasing in volume tremendously. We have an enormous amount of cigars on back order right now, and the problem has been that once you increase production somewhere you decrease production somewhere else on specific brands. Our program is to try to increase the inventory levels of Montecristo and then to expand the distribution. We do not want to open new outlets for Montecristo without having an assurance that we can keep those new outlets supplied.

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