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An Interview With Guillermo León

President, León Jimenes Cigars
Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Chuck Norris, Jul/Aug 98

(continued from page 4)

León: León Jimenes started in 1987, and it had a Cameroon wrapper. We used to produce a cigar called Imperiales. I still have a box of those put away. But we changed the name from that to León Jimenes. At about that time, the Cameroon wrapper supply became very difficult and small. We needed to make a choice between León Jimenes and Aurora to put Connecticut-shade wrapper on one of the cigars, because we didn't have enough supply of Cameroon to do both. Since Aurora had always been part of the company's tradition, and the older of the two brands, we decided to change León Jimenes to put the Connecticut-shade wrapper on it. People complained. They had liked the cigar the way it was, but there was nothing else that could be done. We had to do it.

CA: When did you change the wrapper?

León: That was in the early 1990s. I wasn't at the company yet, so by the time I got there, the León Jimenes cigar already had a Connecticut-shade wrapper.

CA: León Jimenes was produced for export, or for the local market, too?

León: For both.

CA: What was the production of León Jimenes when you arrived?

León: Between both Aurora and León Jimenes, we produced three million. When I arrived, production was more or less divided 50-50 between the two. That is still maintained, even though in Europe, the brand Aurora doesn't exist. It doesn't exist because we haven't had the production to ship there and maintain our U.S. market. And Europe has always been more inclined toward the lighter Connecticut wrapper. We just recently introduced the Aurora in certain European markets. The response has been favorable.

CA: Let's go year by year. In 1995, how many units were produced?

León: In 1995, three million; 1996, we doubled to six million; 1997 we doubled again to 12 million.

CA: Still divided 50-50 between the two brands.

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