“Our Challenge Is Make the Habano Festival Awe Guests Year after Year”


Javier Terrés

Interview with Jorge Luis Fernandez Maique and Javier Terrés, vice presidents for Marketing and Development, respectively, with Habanos S.A.

How did 2014 fare for Habanos S.A. Corporation?

JT.- The year 2014 closed with positive numbers, keeping virtually the same sales in terms of revenues from the previous year, and all that despite the complicated situation many seasoned markets are going through, such as the European countries where the economic crisis has hit hard. Worldwide, we’ve managed to keep our market share above 70 percent, excluding the U.S. market.

JLFM.- 2014 was also a year in which many new things came in. We launched the Partagas Series D No. 6, which not only enhances the Series Line, but also adds a 50 ring-gauge vitola with unique features to this series. We also unveiled the Le Hoyo de San Juan, a new vitola that enriched the Le Hoyo Line within Hoyo de Monterrey, with tremendous acclaim among smokers who prefer thick ring-gauge, mild-tasting habanos. We also presented the new vitolas from the Trinidad and Vegueros brands to further enhance their portfolios. The Ediciones Limitadas products are equally sought after by those who love a good smoke. This time around, the vitolas that hit the market were Cohiba Robustos Supremos, the brand’s first ring gauge 58; Bolívar Súper Coronas and Partagás Selección Privada. Other extremely new products –recently rolled out too- belong to the Línea Añejados, which will also bask in the Festival’s limelight. These are habanos that have been aged in Cuban warehouses, in perfect preservation conditions, for at least five years.

JT.- Furthermore, one of our strategic goals is the expansion of the habano culture, and in 2014 the Habanos Academy has directly trained over 7,000 people, either by Habanos S.A. or through our distribution network that deal directly with customers and smokers. Always working on the concept of specialization and knowledge of the product, last year we implemented the Habano Specialist program in 15 markets, thus reaching out to more than 600, while the Habano Point program was implemented in a dozen more markets for a grand total 1,700. These figures, coupled with our more than 145 La Casa del Habano franchises, give us a unique competitive edge in the realm of premium cigars as far as the expertise these retailers have of our product is concerned.


The Habano Festival is the setting of choice to present new vitolas, updates and renovations of the brands. What launches do you have in store for 2015?

Jorge Luis Fernández Maique

JLFM.- Several interesting launches will hit the market in 2015, many of them to be introduced in this Festival. This year, Montecristo will celebrate its 80th anniversary, quite a milestone for our best-known and most coveted brand, and to celebrate it with style, we’ll be rolling out an exclusive commemorative edition with a one-and-only anniversary vitola in terms of sizes (ring gauge 55 x 165 mm long) and presentation. Also in this Festival we’ll present the first Gran Reserva Cosecha 2009 of Romeo y Julieta, in its emblematic Wide Churchills vitola, which in its short lifespan has panned out to be one of the most significant ones in the brand’s portfolio. All the leaves for this Gran Reserva have endured a long and thorough 5-year aging process. Also coming up this year, the Edición Especial 25 Aniversario for the La Casa del Habano, consisting of a humidor stocked with two exclusive vitolas from the La Gloria Cubana brand and which do not belong to its regular portfolio: Pirámides and Robustos Extra. In addition to these newcomers to be unveiled during the Habano Festival, there’ll be more launches in the course of the year, including the Limited Editions and the Regional Editions.

What new markets have you set sight on? What projects do you have in them and what strategies have you mapped out for the well-established markets?

JT.- For years Habanos S.A. has been prioritizing the so-called emerging markets where, in addition to putting interesting sale numbers on the board, we’ve also been working in passing on the habano culture to both customers and consumers, and the outcomes have been terrific. Over the past year, the markets in the Asia-Pacific region are the ones that have done better, and we hope this trend will stay that way in 2015. Of course, we shouldn’t ignore growth in other geographical regions in which we also have very interesting development projects going on. As to the seasoned markets, with the strain of increasing regulatory pressures on them, our goal is to keep the same market share and maintain business profitability.

What new things will be coming during the 17th Habano Festival?


JLFM.- The Habano Festival is perhaps the greatest tobacco event in the world, a recognition deservedly won for its ability to awe guests and attendees in each and every edition, and for the good deal of unique activities held there. We renovate it year after year in a bid to keep giving aficionados and customers from around the globe with new encouragement. That’s our challenge. In this edition there’ll be very suggestive upcoming things, such as the Opening Night in a new location: the former Tobacco and Wood Warehouse in the Havana seaport. Another highlight will be the spectacular scenography set up for the La Casa del Habano night, which will be full of surprises. And to top it all off, the closing night will be reserved for the 80th anniversary of the Montecristo brand. Lectures within the framework of the International Seminar will continue to delve into an array of interesting and different topics on the habano. And as it happens every year, we’ll once again have an impressive lineup of artists to entertain guests at the three nightly events. Last but not least, the Habanos Alliances are noticeable too, this time around with Italy’s Chianti wines, in an effort to pair two excellent products of different origins. In a word, the Festival will provide once again the perfect platform for all of us who love this product: the habano.