The Leccia Tobacco Company cigar brands, formerly distributed by Toraño Family Cigar, are now the property of General Cigar Co. General has acquired all three Leccia brands and has hired former brand owner Sam Leccia to become part of the General team.
Leccia owned three brands: Leccia Black, Leccia White and Luchador. Black is made in the Dominican Republic at the Cuevas factory while White and Luchador are produced in Nicaragua at the American Caribbean factory.
"The Leccia brands are going to be part of General's Foundry division," Leccia told Cigar Aficionado in an interview today. Foundry is an experimental subdivision of General run by Michael Giannini. "We'll be more than likely rebranding the lines altogether without the Leccia name, but the blends will be the same. General owns the blends, but they do not own my name or my signature."
Leccia's new title under General is cigar and blend specialist. He won't just be in charge of his former brands, but will be involved in many of General's cigar lines.
"I'm very excited to be part of General," said Leccia. "For what I like to do, this is like playing in the ultimate sandbox. The distribution and resources are huge. It isn't easy running your own brand, and I had to do what was best for me and for my family."
Dan Carr, president of General Cigar, said in a press announcement: "I am impressed with what Sam has achieved. He broke into the industry, worked tirelessly for years, and made a name for himself by developing interesting cigar brands. Sam will provide additional creative talent to complement the expertise of our existing team, enabling us to build on the success of his and our current brands. I look forward to his contributions in helping us accelerate our plans for Foundry Tobacco Co., and to the personal perspective he will bring to our entire brand portfolio."
When General Cigar announced that it bought Toraño's cigar brands last week, questions arose as to the future of Leccia's brands, which Toraño had been distributing. Rumors even circulated online that Leccia's brands were being discontinued. Leccia told Cigar Aficionado that his brands will live on.
"I was never part of the Toraño acquisition," Leccia said. "I had a two-month window to prepare for the selling of Toraño. I spoke with investors, and I spoke with other brand owners when trying to determine the future of Leccia Tobacco. There was a lot of interest, but Dan Carr flew up to Pittsburgh to meet with me about a month ago. I was very impressed."
Toraño Family Cigars distributed, but didn't own, the Leccia brands. Former Toraño owner Charlie Toraño was a personal investor in the company according to Leccia, but that ownership ended last week. "When he sold to General, he relinquished all of the ownership back to me," Leccia said. "We called it even. But I never had any obligation to General whatsoever when they bought Toraño's brands. It was a separate transaction."
Leccia first gained attention in the premium cigar industry as the spokesperson and face for the Oliva NUb and Cain brands. After leaving Oliva in 2010, he eventually struck out on his own and partnered with Toraño Family Cigars for distribution.
Leccia assured Cigar Aficionado that, to the best of his knowledge, the existing Leccia brands will still be produced in the same factories as they are now.