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Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Leaves General Cigar

David Savona
Posted: January 23, 2009

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, the longtime maker of La Gloria Cubana cigars and one of the best known names in the premium cigar business, is leaving the General Cigar Co./Swedish Match AB umbrella. He will officially leave the company on March 15.

Perez-Carrillo, 57, will start a new cigar business with his daughter, Lissette, 35, and his son, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo III, 27.

"One of the main reasons I decided to leave is that my children want to get involved with the new company," Perez-Carrillo told Cigar Aficionado. "The opportunity to work with my kids is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Perez-Carrillo (whose full name is Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.) once worked alongside his father, Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Sr. "When I worked with my dad, I didn't realize—until he passed away—how much I learned. Not only on the tobacco business side, but how to treat people."

Perez-Carrillo leaves behind the La Gloria Cubana and El Rico Habano brands, which Swedish Match will continue to own, as well as the iconic Calle Ocho cigar factory El Credito Cigars Inc., which his father opened in 1968.

Swedish Match purchased El Credito Cigars from Perez-Carrillo in 1999 for undisclosed terms. The El Credito cigar portfolio is rolled in Miami and in Santiago, Dominican Republic; Swedish Match said it will retain "all of the El Credito factories," as well as "all personnel involved in making, manufacturing and marketing" the El Credito brands.

"I feel like I have to reinvent myself," said Perez-Carrillo, who struck gold with the La Gloria brand, one of the hottest cigars on the American market during the 1990s cigar boom. "I want to see if I can redo it again—it's a challenge."

"It has been a pleasure to work with Ernesto over the past decade," said Lennart Freeman, president of Swedish Match International in a statement released this afternoon. "During his tenure with the company, Ernesto has been a teacher, transferring his knowledge and sharing his insights with the artisans who will continue to provide the products that premium cigar consumers so richly enjoy. We look forward to maintaining our relationship with Ernesto and wish him great success in his new venture."

For more on this story, see Tuesday's Cigar Insider.

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