Phillips & King and Ventura Cigar Co., both owned by Kretek International, will not be exhibiting at the 2020 PCA Convention & Trade Show.
The companies made the announcement less than two weeks after Altadis U.S.A., Davidoff of Geneva USA, Drew Estate and General Cigar Co. announced their decisions to pull out of the PCA Convention & Trade Show, formerly IPCPR.
Its decision was blamed on both issues related to the trade show—declining attendance and increased costs—as well as issues related to the PCA’s legislative agenda.
Kretek believes that all cigar manufacturers and Importers should be working together, willing to openly discuss and manage efforts, as part of the PCA rebranding initiatives. This rebranding must direct the Premium Cigar legislative and regulatory endeavors in order to get the most benefit from the collective financial contributions made by the industry, and not to splinter the collective into separate entities.
Kretek and Phillips & King is a family-owned company who has supported brick and mortar retailers in all fifty states for over 114 years. They have always felt the importance to support other family-owned businesses who have helped build the business, by coming together as a united force. Kretek does not believe the PCA is moving in this direction, but rather one that seems to sacrifice segments of the industry in hopes of saving others.
While on the surface the new PCA tactics may seem logical to some depending on their business segment. However, as an international company, Kretek has firsthand knowledge of a negative outcome as similar efforts played out.
“Our Canadian subsidiary operated under this exact pretense,” said Sean Cassar, president of Kretek International, in a press release. “And the results were devastating. Driven primarily through big tobacco’s efforts, the market went dark, cigar stores lost their ability to have smoking lounges, stores could no longer advertise products, and in the end the market went to plain packaging across all categories. Small, independent family businesses in this environment had taken the approach that it was better to give up an arm to save the body. But in the end the regulators took both the arms, the legs, and whatever else they could find. And we’re just not willing to go down that road- especially when we know the outcome.”
The company had one of the larger booths at last year’s trade show, a 3,000-square-foot booth. Its press release also highlighted its role in some of the more prominent incentives at the trade show, specifically, giving away Rolex watches or Harley-Davidson motorcycles to retailers that placed orders in person.
Notably, Kretek International also operates Tobacco Plus Expo, a competing trade show that takes place next week.