A Year of Celebrations
THE HABANO FESTIVAL TRADITIONALLY ENGAGES THE MOST DEMANDING ENTHUSIASTS OF THE WORLD'S FINEST CIGARS. THIS NEW EDITION WILL BE DEDICATED TO BRANDS LIKE BOLIVAR, MONTECRISTO, AND ROMEO Y JULIETA
Work, determination, family, triumph, privilege, innovation, challenge, culture, Cuba, passion; those are some of the words that come to our minds when talking about high-octane events such as the Habanos Festival and, in this line, the management of Habanos, S.A. For 25 years, the actions of this joint venture has been defined by an excellent work, which has allowed the company to make a name for itself in the international market, being present in more than 150 countries and hitting record highs in revenue.
Therefore, each Festival is a reason for joy and comes with new challenges; it is a valuable time to enjoy the spirit of Habanos in its birthplace. This 22nd edition aims not only at celebrating, but it also intends to amaze and seduce. On the latest news and details of this important event, Excelencias had this exclusive interview with Mr. Luis Sánchez-Harguindey Pardo de Vera (L.S.-H) and Mr. Inocente Núñez Blanco (I.N.), co-presidents of Habanos, S.A.
There have been already 22 editions of this Habanos Festival. What do you make of this event evolution?
I.N. and L.S-H. : For Habanos, S.A., it is certainly a genuine privilege to celebrate the 22nd edition of the Habano Festival. The fact that we are actually celebrating 22 editions is the best token of success of this Festival, which always aims to innovate and amaze its guests. But it is not only a privilege for Habanos, S.A., but also for Cuba and Havana to be the venue of choice for this major international event gathering with over 5,000 attendees during a weeklong gathering, engaging the most demanding enthusiasts of the world's finest cigars: the Habanos.
What does the Festival mean to Cuba, generally speaking, and to Habanos in particular?
I.N.: The Habano Festival is the perfect framework to showcase not only a unique product like Habanos, but also all the culture and art of this wonderful island named Cuba.
For Habanos, S.A., it is the most important time of the year. We gather all Habanos' enthusiasts around the world for a week, and introduce the year's biggest launching to them.
It is an exceptional opportunity for our enthusiasts, and not only for the new elements introduced, but also because the Habano Festival is where you can really embrace the unique experience involving the culture and spirit of Habanos in its birthplace, Cuba.
For Cuba, and specially for Havana, it is a weeklong event to foster everything that makes our culture and nation unique. But that's not the whole story, the Habanos Festival is one of the most important events in Cuba and the benefits received by the country and especially Havana, thanks to this Festival, prove us right. We are talking about benefits generated by
the high-end tourism attending the Festival; namely in terms of accommodation and restaurant benefits, let alone transportation and leisure…, as well as the funds raised at the Humidor Auction, which is funneled into the Cuban Ministry of Public Health. We know the importance it has for our nation and thus, we are very proud of that.
What new elements can we find in the content of the Festival?
I.N.: New elements can always be found at the Habanos Festival, as we introduce the year's biggest launches on an annual basis. But it is also true for every activity and show carried out during the week. Of course, we provide the traditional visits to tobacco plantations. This year, we will visit the Partido Zone, in San Antonio de los Baños. We are going to visit the Corona and Partagas factories, two Habanos' iconic centers. Other new elements are the lectures to be held at the International Seminar, the third edition of the Habanos World Challenge contest, the Habano hand-rolling master class, the always innovative Habanos Moment, the muchanticipated Alliance and, of course, the great artistic performances we will enjoy in the best three nights of the year, dedicated this time around to the Bolívar, Montecristo, and Romeo y Julieta brands.
What are the new elements — as for new products — to be unveiled to Habanos' enthusiasts in this Festival?
L.S.-H.: 2019 is a year of celebrations. Many of the Habanos' brands are celebrating their anniversaries and some will have very special launches. One of the most relevant is Romeo y Julieta, which celebrates its 145 years of existence, and releases its most Premium Line within the brand, its new Línea de Oro (Golden Line) with three new vitolas. Another iconic brand, like Montecristo, is celebrating its 85th anniversary and introduces Montecristo Herederos for exclusive sale at Habanos Specialists and La Casa del Habano franchise network, which also celebrates its 30th anniversary. But novelties are not only reserved for brands
celebrating their anniversaries, but also other brands. One of them is Bolivar, which introduces for the first time ever its Reserve, the Bolívar Belicosos Finos, 2016 harvest. The Limited Edition for 2020, eagerly-awaited by Habanos enthusiasts, offer this year Partagás Legado. The latter is also celebrating its anniversary, none less than 175 years since it was founded. As you can see, a year full of launches that we are convinced all of them will fully please all enthusiasts of the best cigars in the world.
How is Habanos, S.A. positioned in the international market and how are the markets faring?
L.S.-H.: Habanos, S.A. continues to be the leading company in all its niches, with a market share close to 70% in volume and 80% in value. The markets are faring successfully, strengthening our position in those that are seasoned and stepping up our presence and sales, especially in emerging markets, such as China, which is increasingly becoming a powerhouse for Habanos. Ultimately, this 2019 has been once again a successful year in the marketing of Habano thanks to several leading-edge initiatives that we have carried out, which decisively contribute to positioning ourselves as the undisputed leaders of premium tobacco worldwide. We are confident that, with the novelties to be introduced at this Festival, we will be here next year talking about another successful year.
Habanos, S.A. celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019. What is your view on the years you have co-chaired Habanos, S.A.?
L.S.-H.: Personally, I have been linked to Cuba for 21 years now, 18 of those years in Habanos. And I tell you something, I could not be any prouder to work here, to belong to this family and to do my share so that Habanos, S.A. continues to grow in prestige and recognition. Habanos S.A. is a joint venture resulting from the merging of Tabacuba and Tabacalera. And, as a result of this partnership, Habanos, S.A. celebrated its 25th anniversary as the leading company in the industry.
And all this is possible thanks to the wonderful tobacco growing in this soil, but above all, to the proven passion and work from those who are or were part of our family. From the workers at the Tobacco Research Institute of Cuba to the tobacco growers, and those who work in pre-industry and industry, and each and every one of the workers of Habanos, S.A., our distributors and retailers; our sponsors, who believe in us, and ultimately all those who, with their support, have made Habano the best cigar in the world.
I.N.: This anniversary was a perfect time to look back, learn from mistakes and celebrate and share successes, recognize founders and personalities who have made it possible, and of course, define the next challenges that we will meet for sure with the help of all. Habanos, S.A. — 25 years later — is present in more than 150 countries and has been achieving record revenues for years. Exports continue to grow, which is paramount for the country.
This success is the result of a unique product, due to its origin, and tradition, but also because of the role played by this “big family”, Habanos, S.A., in the strategic development of our brands. We have carried out great marketing actions in these 25 years and have always led the market in innovation and launching, and with effort, this will remain so. Therefore, we were able to celebrate these two and a half decades with optimism, knowing that we could continue to grow, and our goal will be always to selling more and better by meeting, thanks to our extensive portfolio, all the needs of enthusiasts of the best cigar in the world: the Habano. We are pretty sure that these 25 years of achievements are only the beginning of a great successful story.