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A Conversation with Partagás's Abel Expósito Diaz

Manager of the Partagás Store, Havana, Cuba
CA Editors
From the Print Edition:
Vince McMahon, Nov/Dec 99

Any cigar-smoking traveler to Havana eventually discovers the Partagas store, whether by accident or design. It's impossible to miss, with its huge marquee visible for blocks away, and it's not easy to forget, with top-quality service and a world-class selection of Cuban cigars. The store's manager, Abel Expósito Diaz, knows how to welcome a first-time visitor and keep a longtime customer.

Exposito visited the New York City offices of Cigar Aficionado Online recently and sat down with a panel of editors to discuss his tenure as the head of Cuba's best-known cigar store.

Cigar Aficionado: Tell us what's great about Cuban cigars? What's the best thing happening in Havana today?

Expósito: During the year 2000, cigar production will be lower. It will be reduced to maintain quality standards. Habanos is also working to strengthen it's Casa del Habano store network; we already have some 62 such stores around the world. The intention is to turn the stores into centers that not only sell Habanos [Cuban cigars] but also provide information and educate customers so that they are able to tell real Habanos from false ones.

For our particular store, this year is going to be very important because we are going to grow and feature a more appropriate room for smokers. For the last two years we have hosted an annual dinner to mark the stores anniversary. This year we'll give that dinner in September. Our store will be seven years old as a Casa del Habano, and the Partagas brand will mark its 155th anniversary.

CA: Altadis, the European tobacco giant, recently agreed to buy half of Habanos S.A. What changes do you predict for this new era of Habanos?

Expósito: This hasn't been completed yet, and we at the outlets have not been provided with all the necessary information on the new structure. I don't have enough facts to answer.

CA: Do you think the change will help Cuba meet the demands of the market?

Exposito: I think so. For the first time in many years, this year they asked us to decide and order what [cigars] we wanted to sell at our stores.

CA: For the first time they actually asked you what you wanted?

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