Cuba’s cigar company faced the press on the opening morning of the Habanos Festival, announcing its performance for 2019. The company reported a very small gain in revenues and spoke about its optimistic outlook for the year ahead.
In a crowded, camera-filled conference room at the Havana Convention Center, Habanos officials reported revenues of $531 million for 2019, which it called a 2 percent increase over the sales volume of 2018. Leopoldo Cintra González, commercial vice president for Habanos, was the lead speaker on Monday morning.
Cuba's Biggest Markets (Highest Cigar Sales in Volume)
“We are growing, 2 percent in values, and the market of cigars has been stable for some years in our geographical areas,” he said. Naming regions that were performing particularly well, he pointed to Spain, which showed 4 percent growth, the Middle East, which he said also grew by 4 percent, the Americas, up 5 percent, and the Central Carribbean, up 9 percent.
The only decrease revealed by Habanos at the conference was Asia. Cintra González said sales in Asia were down about 3 percent in 2019.
When asked by Cigar Aficionado to name the most important countries for Habanos sales, González said, in descending order of volume, Spain, China, France, Germany and Cuba. Sales in Cuba are considered export sales by Habanos, as the country’s large number of Casas del Habano cigar stores are frequented by tourists and are major producers of cigar sales for the company.
China has emerged as a strong No. 2 for Habanos, and González said this was the second year in a row it ranked No. 2, having overtaken France, which remained in the No. 3 spot for the second consecutive year.
With China in the No. 2 spot, the Habanos officials were asked about the possible impact of the coronavirus on sales.
“It’s too soon to give an answer to that. January had been a good month for Habanos sales, but we still have to await the impact of the epidemic,” said Habanos. “China for us is a very important market and a potential market.”
The company dismissed the potential impact on any one region of the world, given its broad reach of sales. “Some areas are down, but we have been able to compensate,” it said. “Our distribution in the world makes us optimistic.”
Giving a hint at the company’s geographic reach, Habanos said it has 155 La Casas del Habano in more than 118 cities, 19 Cohiba Atmospheres (the company’s newest type of cigar lounge), 1,174 Habanos Specialists and 2,280 Habanos Points around the world. All told, Habanos claims a total 4,096 retailers of Cuban cigars around the globe.