An Interview with Edgar M. Cullman Sr.
Chairman of the Culbro Corporation
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Bill Cosby, Autumn 94
(continued from page 11)
Cullman: They are available at special places: Dunhill and a few other places. We have no big plans at the moment. We are looking over what we should do. We are very conscious of the fact that should Cuba open, we want to have a position with Cohiba. What that would be we are not sure today. We will probably do a little more with Cohiba next year. But we haven't formulated all our plans on Cohiba.
There is a proliferation of new brands in the United States, whichI think is a great thing for the premium cigar business. Cigar Aficionado has done a lot to promote those brands and give them an opportunity.
C.A.: What you're saying to me is that in 1995 there will probably be something coming forward on Cohiba?
Cullman: I think there will be.
C.A.: Macanudo is your No. 1 brand, Partagas is your No. 2 brand. When we speak to manufacturers today they speak to us in terms of back orders. Can you tell us how many cigars are back ordered at this moment for Macanudo and Partagas?
Cullman: I think it is about a million cigars on back order total.
C.A.: Coming back to Connecticut for a moment: there has been a tremendous cutback in wrapper-tobacco acreage to 1,000 or 1,100 acres, of which there are really two operators in this market: yourselves (Cullman Bros.) and the Windsor Shade Co-op. With the tremendous recent growth of premium cigars, many of which use Connecticut wrappers, is it likely that the amount of acreage for planting is going to increase?
Cullman: I think it will increase a small amount, but not a great amount. What might prompt it to increase more is if Connecticut shade achieves a stronger position in Europe. At the moment, the only cigars that are wrapped in a natural wrapper are premium cigars and a few of our cigars like Garcia y Vega.
C.A.: I hear that there is not enough "A"- quality Connecticut wrapper to meet the growing demand in the premium cigar market and that there is also a serious problem with Cameroon wrappers, which is the wrapper of Partagas. Is there a serious problem getting large-leaf Cameroon wrapper? And what is being done about it? And what are you going to do if you can't get the wrapper?
Cullman: Yes, there is a problem in Cameroon in Africa. That's been a problem for us for quite some time. We expect that we will get more tobacco because there has been a little bit better organization in Cameroon. And while there is no certainty, we believe that Cameroon in the coming years will provide enough wrappers for us. We only want the very best, and they want to be sure to sell it to us because we pay the highest price by far for our wrappers for Partagas; no one else pays the same price. Nowhere near!
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Ed Harvey — Auburn, WA, United States, — August 31, 2011 3:19am ET
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