Alec Bradley Invests in Honduran Cigar Factory
Achieves Vertical Integration

Plantation, FL - Alan Rubin, president of Alec Bradley Cigar Co., has completed purchase of a substantial interest in La Perla Hondureña, a cigar factory located in Danli, Honduras.

"The growth of Alec Bradley Cigars is extraordinary," reports Rubin. "Our sales are up 50% over 2000, and by August, we had matched last year's total sales. Consequently, the company had sufficient capital to obtain a 30% holding in the factory. " Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

"For several years, Guillermo Rico, my partner and co-owner of the factory, has been making our Figurado brand of premium cigars there, as well as our complete lineup of Gourmet Dessert Flavored cigars. We plan to have our next premium cigar, the Indio Fuego, produced there next year. It will be a powerful smoke, but with the sweet flavor Nicaraguan tobacco is known for."

Rico has been a respected tobacco grower in his native Colombia for twenty years, before establishing the La Perla Hondureña facility in 1996. He approached Rubin with the idea of once again growing, this time by buying an 80-acre plantation in Nicaragua's Jalapa Valley, near Esteli, renowned for the quality of its leaf. Rubin's investment helped finance the purchase of the land, and they now have enough Habano wrapper leaf for 7 million cigars. There are also plans to build a box factory on the Danli site when, according to Rubin, "Our production of cigars grows from the present 3 million a year, to 5 million." Currently, the factory employs 35-40 rolling teams and another 75 employees, and produces cigars for several nationally-distributed private label companies.

"It's exciting to own your own factory," admits Rubin, "and it's a relief as well. We now have 100% control over Alec Bradley's product, from the seed to the boxed cigars. We're not vulnerable to the whims of tobacco brokers, but are now assured of our own supply of quality tobacco, as well as the quality of finished cigars our workers that we supply retailers and smokers. The first crop of our wrapper is now in, and it's spectacular - a gorgeous reddish hue, with a gorgeous oily sheen.

In addition to the cigars produced in Danl’, Alec Bradley's two other highly-rated premium cigars - Occidental Reserve and HSG Havana Sun Grown - are produced by Dominican cigar maker Hendrik Kelner.

Authorized Dealer Campaign from Xikar
Kansas City, MO - To show appreciation for those tobacconists who have given full commitment to Xikar, the company has introduced the Xikar Authorized Dealer Program, limited to those shops who carry all the lines of Xikar cigar cutters. Xikar offers double-bladed cutters from low-cost disposables to three prestige lines, as well as a punch.

Company president Kurt Van Keppel says these retailers will receive several benefits. A handsome laser-engraved plaque announces their preferred status, and the company provides other in-store promotional materials. Xikar grants priority shipping privileges, by moving their order "to the top of the stack," when received. Authorized dealers can expect an ongoing campaign of special, exclusive promotions, yet to be announced. If desired by the retailer, Xikar will provide a free link to the shop's Web site, from their own Xikar Dealer Program page.

"Finally," says Van Keppel, "to say thanks to our full-line participants, we provide gifts from the Xikar Merchandise catalog, which are posted on our site. They can keep them for themselves, or they can buy quantities to sell in their stores." The merchandise includes golf shirts for summer wear, dress shirts for the winter, hats, golf towels, coffee mugs, and other items." The Xikar Authorized Dealer program debuts in December.

Xikar has also officially adopted the name "Cutler to the Trade" based on what the company says is its position as manufacturer of the world's broadest line of cigar-cutting instruments. "We trademarked this name to ensure recognition of this unique position in our industry," notes Van Keppel.

Xikar, Inc., P. O. Box 025757, Kansas City, MO 64102, Phone: 816-474-7555, Fax: 917-464-6398, Web: www.xikar.com

La Perla Habana Unveils New Web Site

La Perla Habana Cigars has just created and uploaded their new Web site, . "The thrust of our new site is to be informational," says company president Doug Wood, "to both smokers and retailers." Wood engaged Jan Kirkpatrick and Shaminder Mundi, an L.A.-based web design team, whose recent credits include the Web site for world-renowned automotive giant BMW.

The site capitalizes on the latest Web design tools, like smooth-moving text, blends and fades, and natural-looking computer-generated Caribbean-landscape backdrops. The viewer navigates easily between pages. The Company History page chronicles the birth and growth of La Perla Habana, as well as shedding light on the century-old, classic and mysterious lithograph that adorns bands and box labels.

The Cigars page gives an overview of the company's products, and leads to the four La Perla lines Classic, Maduro, Black Pearl, and the new Blond with specifications and pricing on each. La Perla highlights its outstanding ratings, including SMOKE magazine's Industry's Best awards for "Best Boutique Brand" and "One of Top Five Maduro Cigars." The company does not sell directly from the site, but uses viewer input to define their location, for referral to local retailers. Another page provides testimonials from tobacconists. An Events page shows photos of past retailer and other occasions, along with a calendar of upcoming events.

Dunhill Pipes Showcased

Dunhill North America and Atalon Winery hosted a reception for pipe and wine aficionados on November 1, 2001 in San Francisco, Calif. Dunhill unveiled a special presentation of 210 new pipes, a collection visiting from the flagship Dunhill store in London. All pipes were of old designs, mostly quaints or freehand designs. These styles have not been seen in a new pipe in over 30 years.

According to Dunhill Tobacconist Kim Roberts, the pipes ranged in price from $800 to $10,000 for a perfect cut "G" pipe. Pipes are rated on a diamond rating scale with the most valuable and rarest pipe in the "H" category. Kim explained that "H" pipes are so rare that he has never seen one. Atalon Winery in Oakville, Calif. partnered with Dunhill to pair the fine pipes with Atalon wines produced in California's Napa Valley.

Clockwise, from top left: Atalon Winemaker Thomas Peffer, Susie Telford, Steven F. Johnson, Dunhill North America Master Pipemaker, head of Tobacco; Pipe aficionado Anson Chen; Catherine Larsen, Atalon Winery; Rebecca Powell, Dunhill San Francisco general manager.

SMOKESHOP - December/January, 2002