RETAILER & TOBACCO INDUSTRY NEWS (cont.)
Senate Confirms New Surgeon General
Dr. David Satcher was confirmed as the new U.S. Surgeon General in February, filling a post that had been vacant for three years. Prior to his appointment, Satcher held the position of director of the U.S. Centers of Disease Control for the past four years.
"No one is better qualified to be America's doctor," said President Clinton, who presided over the swearing-in ceremony. "He is a mainstream physician who is an eloquent advocate for the health of all Americans."
The post of Surgeon General had been vacant since the resignation of Joycelyn Elders, and remained unfilled due to conservative opposition on public health issues including AIDS, drug addiction treatment, and tobacco, which created obstacles in finding an acceptable replacement.
Satcher, originally from Anniston, Alabama, believes his new position is a golden opportunity to tackle a number of challenges, including keeping tobacco products away from children.
LRG Restaurant Eyes Havana Cigar, Cigarz
LRG Restaurant Group has signed a binding letter of intent with Havana Cigar Co. and its subsidiaries, which includes the Cigarz on the Avenue and Cigarz on Church Street retail stores, detailing the acquisition of the company on a stock-for-stock basis. The transactions are subject to a standard due diligence and approval by company shareholders.
Under the agreement, LRG will exchange an undisclosed amount of its common stock shares for all the outstanding stock of Havana Cigar, Cigarz on the Avenue, and Cigarz on Church Street.
Havana Cigar Co., established in 1995, formerly operated a cigar-of-the-month club, and in 1996 acquired Premier Cigar Co. Last year they opened their first retail store in Clearwater, Florida - Blue Smoke Cigar. Soon after, the company launched two other stores, Cigarz on the Avenue and Cigarz on Church Street, in Winter Park and Orlando, Florida, respectively.
The "Cigarz" trade name will remain in use to establish the company as a "premier retailer, wholesaler, and mail-order supplier of premium cigars." Each retail location contains a retail showroom, large walk-in humidor, and storage and shipping areas. The three retail outlets are all located in retail and entertainment districts.
Smoker's Gallery Merges With Windsor Capital|
Multi-site Florida Retailer Holds TAA Membership
Boynton Tobacconists, Inc., which operates Smoker's Gallery - a six-store chain of mall-based outlets specializing in cigars, pipes, and tobacco-related accessories in South Florida - completed its merger with mall-based specialty retail company Windsor Capital Corp. The merger was completed as a pooling of interests in exchange for $2.6 million in Windsor Capital's common stock. As a result, Windsor has acquired all of the assets and liabilities of Smoker's Gallery, a member of the TAA.
"This merger... is a significant step toward our stated business objective of consolidating the highly-fragmented tobacconist industry," said Gary N. Mansfield, c.e.o. of Windsor Capital. "The merger adds major growth potential to our corporate revenue base [and] it enhances our management team by adding two highly seasoned retailers."
Joel and Gail Wolk are the former owners and operators of Smoker's Gallery. Joel began his career in the tobacconist industry in 1973 and opened the first Smoker's Gallery retail store in 1977. The Wolks will remain with Windsor on a full-time basis in the Tobacconist Division as chief operating officer and director of operations, respectively.
"Joel and Gail's expertise will not only be extremely beneficial for our own internal growth, but should also prove to be invaluable in our quest to acquire additional tobacconist chains," said Mansfield.
Windsor Capital Corp. operates retail outlets under the name Simply Cigars, which sell cigars and cigar-related items, as well as upscale gentlemen's accessories, in 14 malls located in Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio. Windsor anticipates opening or acquiring other specialty retail concepts in malls nationwide in its bid to become a dominant national tobacconist.
Continued on next page...