Hallo from Bochum.
I’m about 20 minutes outside of the Westfalenhallen in Dortmund, Germany, the massive complex where the annual InterTabac trade
show fair is hosted. It opens in about an hour, although it will actually be winding down its first day by the time many of you likely read this.
I’ve covered InterTabac and the differences between it and the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show in much greater detail before, but the quick version goes something like this.
- It’s all tobacco products — Where as the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show is almost exclusively cigars and pipes, with a heavy cigar focus, InterTabac covers all tobacco. That means cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookah and e-cigarettes, the latter of which continues to be a growing business, at least for the InterTabac trade fair. There’s also InterSupply, which is hosted alongside InterTabac, it features everything you need to start your own tobacco company from a manufacturing-side.
- It’s bigger and growing — InterTabac was already bigger in terms of attendance and space, and it’s only gotten bigger. This year sees the addition of three more halls. InterTabac is a global trade fair, albeit with an obvious German focus.
- It’s a relationship show — The IPCPR Convention & Trade Show is a buying show with companies largely focused on the orders their sales reps take from retailers during the show. While there are retailers that attend InterTabac and place orders, cigar companies are mostly here for relationships, largely with international distributors.
- A lot of companies don’t have their own booths — Technically, we refer to them as “stands” here in Dortmund. But, whatever you want to call them, most companies are in the ones of their German distributor. I’d venture to guess that less than 30 percent of the established cigar companies that are here have their own stand. Most have a section, oftentimes a table or two, within their German distributors stand and conduct meetings from that space.
- There’s not many new products — Unlike the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, there will likely be less than a dozen entirely new handmade cigar lines debuting at InterTabac from established companies. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of new products for the German and international markets, but there’s not much readers of this site won’t have seen or smoked before. There will be a fair amount of new product from brands that are European-only.
With that said, InterTabac remains my favorite trade show. Part of it might be that it’s a lot less work than the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show. Part of it might be the food. Part of it might be a local soccer team. tWhatever the case, I look forward to it every year.
There are a few things I’m looking forward to at InterTabac this year.
Even before the announcement that Davidoff’s ceo and chairman were replaced, this was going to be an interesting trade fair for Davidoff. The company’s commitment to this event over the last few years has been, well, lacking.
In the past, it’s been quite common for Davidoff to be quite busy on the first day of InterTabac within the Arnold André stand, its former distributor; and then by day two to see most of the Davidoff part of the stand turned into a storage closet and the Davidoff employees back home. (It’s a three-day trade show.)
That’s stopped to a degree in recent years, but it will likely be much different this year as Davidoff is in its own stand because the company now is its own German distributor.
Outside of Germany, it will be interesting to see what the mood in and around the company is immediately following the regime change.
2. THE AMERICANS
I’ve gotten to witness a recent wave of American companies coming to InterTabac over the last few years. Most have seemingly stuck around, but over the last two years, the types of companies coming has changed a lot.
Last year in particular there were companies less that have been around for less than a year in the U.S. coming to Dortmund, seeing the European market as a refuge in the face of American regulation and an overcrowded industry.
I think that concept is a bad idea, at least for most; and a very expensive one.
It’s going to be interesting to see how many of the dozen plus newcomers to Dortmund over the last two years are back again this time.
Two years ago, the European Union’s new tobacco regulations, known as TPD2, were all the took of InterTabac. Now? It’s not talked about much.
I’m curious to see how concerned companies are about the next step in EU tobacco regulations, particularly given France’s (likely now failed) efforts to ban a plethora of cigars because of their names earlier this year.
Two other things. I usually arrive the day before InterTabac and normally, quite jetlagged. This year was no different, but I decided I would fight through it and visit two things I regret not going to almost every year.
First was Cigar World, the Düsseldorf-based cigar shop owned by the Benden family. In short, I really should come here more often. It’s an impressively large humidor—even by Texas standards—with a comfortable lounge and a very interesting upstairs.
Secondly, Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) hosts a party before InterTabac ever year. For the last few years, I’ve RSVP’d saying I will go and then fall asleep. I went this year and it was a fun time with an inordinate amount of desserts and some of the weirdest DJs I’ve ever heard.
Glad I got to both, even if I nearly fell asleep in chairs at both.