Amid corporate restructuring and brand consolidation, Ventura Cigar Co.’s former general manager, Michael Giannini is no longer with the company. And Ventura Cigar is no longer operating as a standalone business.
The premium cigar company has returned to its previous position as a subsidiary of Phillips & King International. Both Ventura and Phillips & King are owned by parent company Kretek International Inc., a large importer, marketer and distributor of tobacco products.
“With the new Ventura Cigar and Phillips & King restructuring, we mutually agreed with Michael that it made sense to part ways,” said Sergio Montolfo, general manager and executive vice president for Phillips & King.
The company behind such premium cigar brands as Psyko Seven and Archetype, Ventura became its own business unit in January of 2019 when Kretek gave its premium division more autonomy. As a more independent entity, the intention was for Ventura to have direct access to resources from Kretek to develop, market and distribute its handmade cigar products, including the Archetype Axis Mundi, a cigar that earned the No. 13 spot on Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 list of 2017.
The decision to merge Ventura back into Phillips & King was dictated partly by the cost of FDA compliance. While the transition started last year, Ventura is now fully under the Phillips & King umbrella again.
“This decision was based on a number of factors, including the cost and impact of complying with the FDA guidelines,” explained Montolfo. “As a result, we began the process of focusing our sales efforts on core portfolio brand offerings that had a clear path to FDA approval.”
In addition to Ventura merging back with Phillips & King, Ventura will be consolidating its premium cigar portfolio and discontinuing some of its lines, though the extent of the brand deletions is still undecided.
“In light of the recent developments at FDA regarding premium handmade cigars and the limited cigar production capabilities due to Covid-19, we are taking a second look at our portfolio in hopes of continued support for even more offerings in the future,” Montolfo told Cigar Aficionado. Currently, Ventura is focusing production on its Psyko Seven lines as well as the Archetype Master and Archetype Pupil cigars.
The Foundry line, which Giannini conceived, will most likely be discontinued. Giannini created Foundry during his time at General Cigar Co. before Kretek acquired the line in 2018 for an undisclosed amount. Giannini joined Ventura in 2017 as creative director and was later promoted to general manager the next year.
Giannini did not respond to requests for comment from Cigar Aficionado.
Kretek International is based in California, and owns Tobacco Plus Expo, a large, business-to-business tobacco trade show that covers both premium and machine-made cigars as well as vaping products and flavored tobacco.
“Ventura Cigar is not going away anytime soon,” assured Montolfo. “Phillips & King remains as committed as ever to support the cigar retailers across the country.”