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Davidoff's No. 1

Cigar Aficionado interviews Davidoff's director general Ernst Schneider.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Rush Limbaugh, Spring 94

(continued from page 6)

C.A.: And business in Europe?
Schneider: Also.

C.A.: Which are your best markets in Europe?
Schneider: France, Switzerland and Spain.

C.A.: And are those three markets growing?
Schneider: Yes, all of them.

C.A.: Spain. Interesting. Why Spain?
Schneider: Because you have the same situation with cigarettes. At one time, they smoked only black cigarettes, and today, they also smoke light cigarettes. This development is in all markets. And it's the same for cigars.

C.A.: And the United Kingdom. What's happening there?
Schneider: We have some problems with the distributor.

C.A.: I was under the impression that Germany is doing very well.
Schneider: Germany is doing very well, too. Germany is in fourth place.

C.A.: In looking at the Davidoff name, obviously you have diversified and expanded.
Schneider: The diversification we made was by force. It was not my idea, but in Spain there were wine and ice-cream bars under the name Davidoff. In Italy, there were T-shirts. In Holland, someone sold a Davidoff vodka. Hong Kong, they had shoes. And so on. I can show you in our office, all these products. I decided now we have to stop. Then I cleaned up the whole world market, which cost me a fortune. We had 32 lawsuits to clean the market. The cost was about 3.5 million Swiss francs. So, then I started selling products under the name Davidoff in the most important categories; otherwise, you lose your protection after five years' time if you don't sell a product. So, you see I was forced to do it. But today the name Davidoff has notoriety all over the world; so when somebody goes to take my name, I can certainly stop him with success. So we are not forced to enlarge the diversification. I go very slowly, but we do it today in a professional way and on license.

C.A.: What percentage of your Davidoff business is cigars and tobacco compared with other products?
Schneider: It is difficult to compare. When you speak of turn-over, we make in the cigar business with all our brand names--Zino, Davidoff and Griffin's--about 150 million Swiss-francs turnover, and in the diversification, we make about 250 million Swiss francs.

C.A.: Which is the biggest of your nontobacco products?
Schneider: It's the cosmetic line.

C.A.: The cosmetic line, which is relatively new?
Schneider: Cool Water will be No. 1 worldwide this year in men's cologne.

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