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February/
March 2000

RETAILER & TOBACCO INDUSTRY NEWS (cont.)

International Tobacco Expo Prepares for the Millennium

LAS VEGAS, NV - In the Fall of 1999, the International Tobacco Expo and Tobacco Outlet Business magazine teamed up to make ITE, the place to be for the tobacco industry, with a larger array of manufacturers and distributors of tobacco products and ancillary items.

The Expo takes place March 28-30, 2000 at the Rio Hotel Convention Center in Las Vegas. The International Tobacco Association meeting and roundtable sessions with tobacco manufactures will be held on Tuesday, March 28th. The exhibit hall is open Wednesday and Thursday, March 29-30th.

1999 was the inaugural ITE and it was hailed as an overwhelming success. According to Peter Strauss, president of Tabacalera U.S.A., ITE has the makings of becoming the No. 1 show for the tobacco industry.

The exhibitor list for ITE 2000 has already exceeded last year. Retailers will be able to speak directly with manufacturers such as Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, Lorrillard, Liggett, U.S. Tobacco, Havatampa, Swisher, Swedish Match, Kretek, and Lane International, to name a few of the 150 plus companies that will be exhibiting.

In addition to seminars each morning featuring topics such as the "Tobacco Industry Analysis;" "How to Get Business Outside Your Four Walls;" "Marketing Premium Cigars;" and "Hire Tough, Manage Easy;" there is a roundtable session scheduled for retailers on March 28th, to discuss mutual challenges and opportunities with their peers.

Owners of tobacco outlet stores, smoke shops, gift shops, bars, restaurants, mail order catalogs, convenience stores, and other retailers who are interested in tobacco products, related accessories, and ancillary items such as candles, neon signs, POS systems, ATM machines, and phone cards, will find the Expo a one-stop shop.

There is no charge to attend the exhibit hall and retailers can pre-register to avoid waiting in line. There is a fee for seminars but they can save money by pre-registering at a discount. To sign up, call 800-859-9247. For additional information on the Web, visit www.internationaltobacco.com or www.tobonline.com.


Swedish Match, Gum Tech in Venture

PHOENIX, AZ - Swedish Match A.B. and Gum Tech International have reached an agreement in principle to form a joint venture to explore new business opportunities in the field of non-tobacco nicotine products.

The venture will be organized as an independent company for the purpose of developing, manufacturing, marketing, and distributing non-tobacco nicotine products. Gum Tech, based in Phoenix, Arizona, specializes in the development and manufacture of functional chewing gum products. Under the terms of the agreement, Swedish Match will own 51% and Gum Tech will own 49% of the joint venture. Gum Tech will contribute intellectual property and Swedish Match will contribute $10 million in start-up capital.


Cigar Savor Moves to Consolidated HQ

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL - Cigar Savor Enterprises, maker of cigar accessories, cutters, and lighters, has transferred all of its operations to Consolidated Cigar Corporation's offices in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Cigar Savor had been based in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The two companies entered into a joint venture partnership in 1998 and have recently decided it would be most effective to have all operations managed by the same office. The agreement is an amicable one, and the two companies are optimistic that the change will better serve customers and retailers.


Rocky Year for Grand Havana

LOS ANGELES, CA - For the fiscal year ended September, 1999, Grand Havana Enterprises reported a net loss of $1.63 million on revenues of $5.52 million, which rose .13% from 1998. Revenues from sales of cigars and related merchandise decreased by 20%, to $652,527. The drop was attributed to the February 1999 closure of the Washington, D.C. location of Grand Havana House of Cigars and Grand Havana Room, a private membership restaurant and cigar club. The company operates two remaining retail store locations, at the Bally's Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, and adjacent to the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills. While the Beverly Hills Grand Havana Room continues to maintain a waiting list for membership, approximately 60% of the available memberships have been sold to date at the New York location. Grand Havana stock, which is traded on the OTC Bulletin Board, registered a high bid of $.22 and low bid of $.031 for the year.

Paradigm Granted Patent, Trademark

CLIFTON, NJ - Paradigm Systems, manufacturer of the high-tech Paradigm cigar humidification device, says its maintenance-free units have been granted both trademark and patent protection by the U.S. Patent Office. Invented by space scientist Alan Crowder, the U.S.A.-made units require only the use of distilled water, never need to be replaced, and come with a lifetime warranty. "No one else will be able to make a product like the patented Paradigm," notes Crowder.

Paradigm is available in three sizes, accommodating 50, 125, or 250 cigars retailing at $29.95, $59.95, and $89.95 respectively. A creative, compact counter display designed to hold the two fastest-selling of the three sizes, as well as informative brochures, is provided to retailers with their first order.

Retailers may recognize special private-label versions of Paradigm units featured exclusively in Manning Humidors of Ireland and Padron Cigar's Limited Edition Millennium Humidor Boxes. Contact: Paradigm Systems, Tel: (800) 49-CIGAR or (973) 472-8433.


Tampa Selected for 2001 RTDA Show

TAMPA, FL - For years, the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America wanted to stage its annual convention at the Tampa Convention Center, enticed by the prospect of bringing its 5,500 members to the so-called Cigar City.

"But there were never enough hotel rooms downtown," Bill Fader, director of the RTDA explained to the St. Petersburg Times. "I'm not going to put our members in a city where they have to truck people from suburban hotels to the convention center."

Now the RTDA - and numerous other conventions that once were too big for Tampa - have cast aside those concerns, thanks to the the scheduled March opening of the 717-room Tampa Marriott Waterside hotel next to the convention center. The RTDA will be able to house all of its convention-goers within walking distance of the center.

For the tobacco retailers' visit in 2001, the Marriott is holding 650 rooms, while the other 1,200 rooms will be shared among three other downtown hotels.


OBITUARY

Ramon Cifuentes, 91 - Legendary cigar man, Ramon Cifuentes, who owned the Partagas Cigar factory in Cuba and founded the brand in the Dominican Republic after fleeing the country following Fidel Castro' s 1959 takeover, died January 3 from natural causes in Madrid, Spain. He was 91.

An age-old perfectionist in the art of cigar making, Cifuentes learned the trade from his father who bought the Partagas factory, first founded in 1845, in 1900. The Partagas brand gained great popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, and was a favorite of the writer Evelyn Waugh and the actor Douglas Fairbanks.

Following Cifuentes' escape to the Dominican Republic in 1961, he forged a relationship with General Cigar Company. The company continued to build its tradition with releases such as Partagas Limited Reserve and Partagas 150th Anniversary lines.

Cifuentes is survived by his wife Celia, his sister Angelis, his daughter Celia, and several nieces, nephews and grandchildren.



SMOKESHOP - February 2000