Foundry Tobacco Company is back in the hands of its creator. Kretek International, the California-based tobacco distributor and parent company of Ventura Cigar Co., announced this week that it has acquired the brand from General Cigar Co. for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition brings Foundry back under the control of former General Cigar employee and current Ventura Cigar general manager Michael Giannini, who created the Foundry brand in 2012.
“To see Foundry boxes on my Ventura Cigars’ desk is a little bit unreal,” said Giannini. “I’m thankful to General Cigars for taking such good care of the brand, and to the solid relationship between General and Kretek International that enabled this new phase for Foundry.”
Kretek will begin distributing the entire Foundry brand, and at least one Foundry cigar—the 2016 A.J. Fernandez collaboration Time Flies—will be brought back, this time under the Ventura Cigar fold. Ventura Cigar will also begin producing new blends for Foundry, which it expects to unveil in the near future.
As far as the rest of the current Foundry portfolio, Giannini told Cigar Aficionado that Ventura will be evaluating the brands going forward.
“We’re excited to bring Foundry Tobacco Company brands into our fold,” said Jason Carignan, CMO of Kretek International. “Their products have an edge that plays well with our vibe, and the quality of their smoke is exactly what we’ve built Kretek’s reputation upon.”
The Foundry name first appeared on cigar boxes in 2012, but did not fully blossom until the following year, when it became an entirely new subsidiary of General Cigar. The brand was meant to give Giannini creative license for both blending and packaging, which resulted in the creation of several experimental cigars and unconventional marketing schemes.
Giannini left General Cigar in 2016 and joined Ventura Cigar shortly after, first as creative director and then as general manager. In addition to the development of Foundry Tobacco, Giannini also worked as director of marketing for the La Gloria Cubana brand while at General Cigar.
Kretek International Group Inc., based in Moorpark, California, has been selling tobacco products for three decades, mostly to convenience store chains. The company took a larger stake in the handmade cigar sector in 2013 with the creation of Ventura Cigar Co., which produces brands like Psyko Seven, Project 805, Case Study and Archetype.