Global cigar giant Imperial Tobacco PLC, which is based in Britain, has announced the formation of Tabacalera USA to oversee its premium, handmade cigar business in the United States.
The new group will be in charge of Altadis U.S.A., Imperial's premium cigar division that is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Altadis U.S.A. is the manufacturer and distributor of such non-Cuban premium cigar brands as Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Trinidad and VegaFina.
Javier Estades, who was named general manager of Altadis U.S.A.'s premium cigar division when Imperial restructured in 2011, will serve as the chief of the new Tabacalera USA.
"We have chosen to use the name Tabacalera to recognize and honor our cigar history and better align us with Tabacalera SLU, Imperial's Madrid, Spain-based premium cigar business," said Estades in a press announcement.
Seasoned cigar enthusiasts may recall the name Tabacalera for another reason. In 1999, France's SEITA S.A. and Spain's Tabacalera S.A. merged, creating Altadis. Later that year, Altadis bought half of Cuba's Habanos S.A., and was itself acquired by Imperial Tobacco PLC in 2007.
In addition to overseeing premium cigars, Tabacalera USA will also be responsible for 800-JR Cigar, Inc., better known as JR Cigars, one of the largest premium cigar wholesale and retail businesses in the U.S.
According to Imperial, Altadis U.S.A and 800-JR Cigar will continue to be run separately, and both entities will now report to Estades.
"Tabacalera USA, with these separate premium cigar companies as key pillars, will allow us to further expand our U.S. presence and capitalize on future changes and opportunities in this strategic market," said Fernando Dominguez, premium cigar director for Imperial Tobacco.
In addition to its premium cigar business, Imperial Tobacco also runs a considerable machine-made cigar business.