General Cigar Co. Acquiring Toraño Brands

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Earlier this morning, Charlie Toraño, president of Toraño Family Cigars, informed the company’s employees that the Toraño family has reached an agreement to sell its brand to General Cigar Co.

While the family has been in the business for the better part of a century, Toraño Family Cigars was established in 2010 in the wake of another move by General Cigar Co., the transition of CAO into the General Cigar Co. portfolio. Previously, the Ozgener family and its CAO brand, and the Toraño family partnered on both manufacturing and distribution. CAO was sold in 2007 and in 2010, the brand was absorbed into the larger ST Group portfolio after a restructuring at General. Toraño needed its own distribution, so the family hired many of CAO’s former employees and re-launched the company at the 2010 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show.

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Following this year’s trade show, a rumor began regarding General Cigar Co./ST Group and its strong interest in acquiring brands, although Toraño was not listed as one of the likely targets. As it turns out, not only was that part of a much larger story about the future of General Cigar Co./ST Group, but it was also true.

“The acquisition of the Toraño brands represents an opportunity for us to strategically expand our portfolio,” said Dan Carr, president of General Cigar Co. in a press release. “Our companies have been intertwined for over 50 years and I look forward to working with Charlie Toraño on plans to celebrate the upcoming centennial and to carry forward the vision, passion and innovation that is synonymous with the Toraño name while also leveraging our resources to bring even greater excitement and reach to our trade partners and consumers.”

That press release indicated the deal was effective today, Sept. 11, 2014. It covers the brands of the company–not the company itself–which will close down.

Toraño’s portfolio of brands, which includes Exodus, Loyal, Master by Carlos Toraño, Salutem, Vault and others, will become part of the General Cigar Co. portfolio. Toraño’s staff is unlikely to make the move according to one current employee. For at least some members of the sales force this will seem like déjà vu: the second time the brands they were selling have been moved to Richmond as part of General; the second time they now need a new job.

What’s also not part of the deal will be any factories. In late 2008, the Toraños and Fidel Olivas sold the Latin Cigars S.A. factory—and the other CAO factory in Honduras—to ST Group. Since then, Toraño has produced cigars at Plasencia, American Caribbean Tobacco S.A. and others. A press release issued by General Cigar Co. claims production will remain unchanged.

It’s unclear what will happen to the Leccia Tobacco Co. brand. Both the Toraños and Sam Leccia have always been clear that the agreement had between the two parties was not a traditional one. Toraño has distributed Leccia, but the structure of Leccia Tobacco Co. remains unknown. Leccia has not responded for direct comment, although has publicly comment on this story from his Facebook page, writing “big changes.”

ST Group claims to be the top seller of premium cigars in the U.S. with sales of 60 million handmade in cigars in 2013. It has global ownership of the CAO, Macanudo, Foundry and Don Tomas brands, as well as the trademarks for Cohiba, Partagas, La Gloria Cubana, Hoyo de Monterrey, Punch, Bolivar and Sancho Panza in the U.S. In addition, it owns Cigars International—and its related stores—and the Meier & Dutch distribution company.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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