Habanos S.A, Cuba's cigar company, reported today that revenues reached $428 million, an increase of 4 percent over 2014. Leopoldo Cintra Gonzalez, the new commercial vice president of Habanos, said the growth showed the strength of the country's brands in the global marketplace.
The announcement was made at the opening press conference of the 18th Festival del Habanos, held every year in Havana. More than 2,000 persons (and 220 international press) are expected to the attend the weeklong event, which this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the launch of Cohiba, Cuba's most prestigious brand.
The week events include a large welcome cocktail party, which took place last night at the Tobacco and Wood warehouse on Havana's waterfront; a dinner Wednesday night in celebration of cigar rollers; and a final gala dinner on Friday to fete Cohiba. Attendees will have the opportunity to travel to Cuba's famed tobacco growing region of Pinar del Río and tour the home factory of Cohiba, the recently renovated El Laguito. There are also seminars and special events throughout the week.
Several new cigars will be previewed during the festival: the Hoyo de Monterrey Reserva 2012, in the brand's famed Epicure No. 2 line; the H. Upmann Magnum 54, the third in the brand's Magnum series; and the Cuaba 20 Anniversario, a large double figurado.
The Habanos official also announced other cigars that are going to soon be added to the Habanos line, including the Cohiba Medio Siglo, the Cohiba Majestuoso 1966, and the Ediciónes Limitadas: Montecristo Dantes, Trinidad Topes and a Romeo y Julieta Capuletos. And, the officials revealed that the Cohiba 50th Anniversary cigar would be 7 inches by 60 ring gauge and sold in 50 humidors of 50 cigars each; each humidor is covered in tobacco leaves that have been gilded with 24 karat gold. (Click here to read more on the new cigars.)
During a question-and-answer period, two Habanos officials, Cintra Gonzalez and vice president of development of Habanos S.A. Javier Terrés de Ercilla, acknowledged that the current tobacco growing season 2015/2016 has been difficult with a "drought when it should have rained, and heavy rains when it should have been dried." But they said due to special measures from preparation of the fields, to special seed varieties, they did not feel that the difficulties would adversely affect the quantities of tobacco harvested, nor the quality.
Terrés Ercilla also declined to speculate about how quickly the U.S. market would open for Cuban cigars, or how large a market share Cuban cigars would take once the brands began selling there. "The United States is the largest premium cigar market in the world," Terrés Ercilla said, "but we really can't speculate about things that have not happened, yet." He added that the increase in U.S. tourists coming to Cuba had not had a significant impact on Habanos' cigar sales, but he considered it a positive influence that more Americans were having the opportunity to smoke Cuban cigars, and taking that information back to America.
Habanos also said that its top five markets in 2015, in order, were Spain, France, China, Germany and Switzerland. The company's sales by region were Europe, with 55 percent, the Americas (including Cuba) at 16 percent, Africa and the Middle East represented 15 percent and Asia/Pacific tallied 15 percent. The best selling brands were Cohiba, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta, and the best selling cigars were the Partagás Serie D No. 4 and Montecristo No. 2.