Sam Leccia has left General Cigar Co., confirming the news to halfwheel on Tuesday night shortly after posting a message to his personal Facebook page.
Leccia said he had no hard feelings regarding the separation, describing it as a good year and a good run with General. In a Facebook post on Tuesday night, Leccia said:
Some Big News today.
General Cigar Co will no longer be the distributor for Leccia Tobacco. After a year, it just wasn’t a good fit. I appreciate my time with the folks at General Cigar, but this is truly best for the Leccia Tobacco brand.
Things really shouldn’t change all that much for Leccia Tobacco. The cigar brands have always been made at the same factories since day 1, and that will continue.
I have always maintained 100% ownership of the Leccia Tobacco brands and trademarks so the only real changes is how the cigars will be delivered to the retailer.
Once again, thanks to The General Cigar team for their efforts in selling the Leccia Tobacco brands in 2015, I wish them all continued success.
I have big plans for 2016 with some incredible new projects in store. I am looking forward to bringing them to a humidor near you!
Thank You All For Your Continued Support!
He told halfwheel that he will still be doing a number of scheduled events and it will be “business as usual” for the immediate future.
Leccia joined General Cigar Co. in Sept. 2014, shortly after Toraño Family Cigar Co. sold its brands to General. Toraño had been distributing Leccia’s portfolio at the time of its acquisition, leaving him without distribution. At the time, Leccia told halfwheel that he explored several options for what would be best for him and his company, ultimately deciding that General Cigar Co. was the best option.
As part of the move, General Cigar Co. would be responsible for the distribution of Leccia’s three lines—Black, White and Luchador. However, contrary to what had been reported at the time, Leccia did not sell his brands to General Cigar Co., telling halfwheel that there was confusion over how the term acquisition was used. Much like was announced with the Toraño acquisition, General Cigar Co. maintained that it would not change the blends of Leccia’s cigars or where they were made.
In his role with General Cigar Co., Leccia was said to be working with Michael Giannini and his Foundry Tobacco Co., though nothing seemed to come out of that arrangement. Leccia was next to Foundry’s booth at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, but there appeared to be little interaction between the two brands as Leccia promoted his new Luchador El Gringo line and Foundry showed off the revamped Bolivar and Ramon Allones lines.
Since the trade show, little has been heard from Leccia, while Foundry has certainly changed its strategy, having gone from releasing double digit numbers of cigars in previous years to a very subdued booth at the industry’s annual gathering.
Leccia made his debut in the cigar industry as part of Oliva Cigar Co., serving as the face of the NUb and Cain brands for several years before departing the company at the end of 2010. After legal issues regarding that departure delayed his return to the industry, he announced his return early in 2013, shipping the Leccia White in late April and the Leccia Black in late May. He added the Leccia Luchador in May 2014, extending the line with the Luchador El Gringo in the Sept. 2015.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Alan Willner, vice president of marketing for General Cigar Co., said “we have decided to part ways with Sam Leccia, so that we may focus our efforts on our existing portfolio. We wish Sam well in his future endeavors.”
Update (Jan. 20, 2016) — Added statement from General Cigar.