Switzerland gets Andorra regional editions. The Swiss Habanos distributor Intertabak AG is taking the opportunity of a rule that allows official Habanos distributors to trade amongst each other. It is the first time that the official importers of Cuban cigars buy and sell amongst each other.
Intertabak AG CEO Tony Hoevenaars and Marketing Director Yannick Goetschy explain the arrival of three Andora regional editions in Switzerland. They did that after questions from the cigar blog Zigarren Zone. Hoevenaars, whom we interviewed before when he was the managing director of Cubacigar Benelux, explains. Officially the Habanos distributors are allowed to exchange small amounts of regional editions. But there are rules that they must abide to.
Those rules are that Habanos have to approve the exchange. And that the exchange is limited to a maximum of three master cases. It is impossible to put an exact number of cigars as it depends on the size of the cigar and the packaging. With a standard robusto in a box of 25, a master case contains about 30 boxes, so 750 cigars. But because regional editions are in high demand, not one distributor has exchanged cigars with another distributor until now.
Intertabak AG acquired masteries of three regional editions for Andorra. Those are the Juan Lopez Malecon Edicion Regional Andorra from the 2015 and the Bolivar Short Bolivar Edicion Regional Andorra from the 2017 program. The 2018 El Rey del Mundo Petit Cayo is also available at select Swiss retailers.
Hoevenaars says there is no real strategy behind this. The opportunity was there and these are products in high demand. Adding a few master cases of regional editions from another country is a treat for retailers. Although Intertabak will jump on the next opportunity, Hoevenaars says there is nothing else available at the moment. But he is reaching out to other Habanos distributors to see what the possibilities are.
Yannick Goetschy adds that Intertabak AG did import other regional editions in the past from time to time. But in such low quantities that they never advertised it
REGIONAL EDITION PROGRAM
In 2005, Habanos S.A. introduced the Regional Edition (Edición Regional) program. This series gives the distributors an annual opportunity to commission special exclusive cigars for their region. In the initial program, the cigars could not be commissioned from the ten worldwide premium Global and Niche brands. Since the 2019 re-organization of the brands, the niche brand category has been no longer. Cuaba and San Cristóbal de La Habana have become eligible for Regional Editions (the status of Trinidad is still unclear).
In some cases, discontinued brands have also had regional releases. In one instance an entirely new brand was created. The cigars must be a standard current production factory size that is not already available in that brand. Since 2016, regions cannot have a cigar from the same brand two years in a row. Up until 2012, distributors were able to commission multiple cigars per year. This is subsequently limited to one cigar per region. Although large distributors are still able to commission multiple cigars by specifying different regions within their territory.
Each release is initiated by the distributors. They approach Habanos with an idea for a release that Habanos will either accept or reject. The distributor specifies how many cigars they would like (minimum order of 25,000), and pays for the cost of the production upfront. If they would like specialty packaging, then they are responsible for sourcing this.
Habanos will produce three prototype blend options, and the distributor will pick the one that goes into final production. In some cases, a second batch of the cigars may be produced in the year after the initial release.
Regional Edition cigars normally have two bands: the standard production band for their brand, and a special red and silver band with the word “Exclusivo” and the name of the region in Spanish. In some cases, a special band is an option in place of the standard one. Early releases used a generic band that did not state the region name. Prior to 2005, a number of distributors were able to commission exclusive cigars with no special bands or markings.
Source on the regional edition program text: Cubancigarwebsite