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Will InterTabac take place this year? And if so, who will be there? Last week, the largest tobacco trade show in the world said that they were positive about the show. “Nevertheless, the latest signals from the political arena mean that we are once again somewhat more positive about holding trade fairs in Dortmund,” were the words from Sabine Loos, General Manager of the Westfalenhallen Group of Companies. Reason for Ministry of Cigars to contact some smaller and larger exhibitors to see how they feel about a large tradeshow in September. And we asked them “Will InterTabac take place this year? And will your company have a booth?”.

Cancelations

There are rumors that several large exhibitors canceled the booth for this year. But so far, only Schuster Zigarren confirmed that they won’t have a booth if the show takes place. Schuster is a German cigar producer, with manufacturing in Germany. Yet, the company also owns the brands as Maria Mancini, Iron Shirt, Casa de Torres amongst others. Those cigars are made in Honduras and Nicaragua. And Schuster is the international distributor for RoMa Craft. In Germany, Schuster is responsible for importing and distributing CLE, Asylum 13, and Debonaire House. In an e-mail, Annemarie Schuster said “We won’t have a booth at the Intertabac this year. If the Intertabac is happening, we will be there as visitors.”. Other companies mentioned in the rumors have not replied to our inquiries or denied the cancellation of the booth.

Distributor booths

At the Intertabac Trade Show, several brands share booths. The German distributor of those brands creates large booths with sections for each of the brands they represent. Kohlhase & Kopp for example, Germany’s largest distributor, has a booth with Ashton, Rocky Patel, Olifant, and others. Adam Kohlhase wrote that the tobacco association VDR is currently investigating the position of its members. It is expected that the exhibition management will announce a final decision at the end of the month. If the show gets a green light, Kohlhase & Kopp will consult with the brands they represent whether they want to participate with the trade show this year or not. Depending on the outcome, Kohlhase & Kopp will make their decision to exhibit or cancel.

Another large booth is the one from Wolfertz GHMB, who represents Xikar, A.J. Fernandez, Alec Bradley, DH Boutique Cigars, Condega, Caldwell Cigars, My Father Cigars, and Plasencia. Wolfertz did not reply to our e-mail. Alec Bradley, however, said that the company is monitoring the situation closely but did not make a decision yet. Kleinlagel, the distributor for Gurkha, Casdagli, Principle, Royal Danish, Epic, Fratello, Black Label Trading Company, and others did reply. Martina Kleinlagel explained that canceling is not an option at the moment, but that Kleinlagel and others are pushing for a trade show in the spring. “Our responsibility for our co-workers, partners, and customers does not allow a fair like we used to have. If there will be concepts similar to restaurants, the exhibition will not be the same. In our opinion, an international fair in September doesn’t make sense. On top German retailers suffered a lot from the closure / Lockdown, so we do not expect enough visitors from that side if Intertabac will happen. And, we would need to organize the booth construction now – but without knowing if and how the fair will be held, it is not possible to do so.” 

Brand booths

Last year, J.C. Newman had its own booth for the first time. In the years before, J.C. Newman had a small corner at the booth of its German distributor. Cristal Lastra replied to our inquiry that J.C. Newman has not made any decisions about the show yet. The same goes for Drew Estate, Bossner, and Tabacalera (the premium cigar division of Altadis). These three companies all have large booths every year. In fact, Tabacalera has several booths. With 5th Avenue & Habanos, they exhibit the Cuban brands. The VegaFina brand is located in the booth of distributor Villiger. The other Tabacalera premium cigar brands, Don Diego, Flor de Copan, and Santa Damiana are shown at the booth of Kohlhase & Kopp. Art Garcia from Antigua Esteli told Ministry of Cigars that he is unsure if he would visit the Intertabac Trade Show. Hadi Habib from Dapper Cigars responded that even though no decision about a booth was made, the company was leaning towards not going. 

The same goes for Joya de Nicaragua. Juan Martinez wrote that the balance shifts to the negative. Since it’s unclear if there is the freedom to travel, and the situation in September, Joya de Nicaragua can’t decide just yet. “We will not expose our team to any Unnecessary risks. If the level of contagion internationally is high, then we will not expose anybody. Importantly, the trade show has not made space allocations to this date, they usually do so by February or March. Our assistance would greatly depend also on the attendance of our clients. If they don’t go, it doesn’t make sense to go. To this date, we don’t know of anybody who has any travel plans. Finally, I think any trade show under the current conditions is going to be very complicated logistically and even uncomfortable for attendees and specially exhibitors. With people coming from so many places around the world, which is what makes intertabac to special, it will be extremely complicated to minimize risk. I think that in that case the show format would have to be modified, perhaps only catering to locals or German retailers, in which case it wouldn’t make sense for us to come. In all, we are planning to continue getting close to our clients and customers from around the world, but we feel that we all need to be realistic. This year we should not pretend to do things like always” Martinez said.

Royal Agio Cigars

One booth that won’t be seen at Intertabac anymore is the large, beautiful booth of Royal Agio Cigars. In the last few years, the booth had a tasting room where cigars could be matched with different nuts, chocolates, coffees, liquors, and other beautiful pairings. But the Royal Agio brands will be incorporated in the large Scandinavian Tobacco Group booth anyway. STG has not replied to any inquiry about the presence of a possible trade show in September.

Ministry of Cigars - Will InterTabac take place this year
The Royal Agio tasting room at Intertabac 2019 (photo credit: https://www.dedicatedtosq.com)

On a personal note

Will InterTabac take place this year? We at Ministry of Cigars think that the Intertabac trade show will be canceled. Expert virologists in Europe are advising all football leagues to play for empty stadiums until the end of the year due to the high risk of contamination. So hosting a trade show with more than 10.000 visitors from all over the world would be a big no-no. Currently, any gathering for more than 500 people is prohibited in Nordrhein Westfalen, the province where Dortmund is located. Even though the Nordrhein Westfalen government leans to opening the economy, it is expected that the temporary rule is extended after August 31st. It would automatically mean that the tradeshow will have to be canceled or postponed. And postponing it until the spring could be a big improvement for the show anyway. For the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers visiting the show, but more on that next week. Intertabac reached out to exhibitors with a survey earlier this week and judging from the reactions we had, we can only imagine that the organizers conclude it’s not realistic to host Intertabac in September.

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