Manufacturers and Premium Cigar Association Respond to Exhibitor Exits

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Premium Cigar Association

Earlier today, news broke that four of the largest cigar manufacturers–Davidoff, Altadis U.S.A., Drew Estate and General Cigar Co.–had opted not to exhibit at the 2020 Premium Cigar Association (PCA) trade show and convention this July [read more here]. The PCA trade show, formerly known as the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), is arguably the largest premium cigar and pipe tobacco trade show and has figured in importantly to many manufacturers’ sales and marketing plans. Hours later, the PCA itself, manufacturers and some retailers are chiming in on the announcement that some of the show’s largest exhibitors, representing some of the industry’s most iconic brands, would not be exhibiting in 2020.

Soon after various media outlets began circulating the news, a press release from Drew Estate was released on behalf of the big four manufacturers who had announced they would not be attending the trade show. Here is their official statement in full:

Today, leading premium cigar manufacturers Altadis U.S.A., Davidoff of Geneva USA, Drew Estate, and General Cigar / STG, are announcing that they will not attend the 2020 PCA trade show. This decision, which each of our companies reached unilaterally after careful consideration, reflects our strong belief that structural change in the trade show is in the long-term best interests of the entire premium cigar industry and its customers.

Over recent years, an increasing number of retailers and manufacturers have come to recognize an unfortunate set of facts:

    • Our most important industry gathering – the PCA trade show – has been in decline.
    • Attempts to discuss ways to reverse the downward trends in relevance, attendance, membership, and category growth have been met with silence.
    • The cost of the event – which continues to rise – has consumed funds that could otherwise be used to defend our industry from regulatory and legislative attacks, which threaten the livelihood of each and every one of us.

After six months of repeated outreach to PCA, various efforts to discuss ways to enhance the structure, organization, and value of the show – for the benefit of retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers – were unsuccessful.  Absent significant improvements, the trade show will continue its downwards spiral.  As “customers” of the trade show, it has become increasingly evident to each of us that we simply cannot continue to support and underwrite an event that is not satisfactorily responding to, or meeting, the needs of our industry.

Looking ahead to 2020, each of us is individually committed to using resources previously devoted to the show and repurpose these funds towards achieving two important goals for our industry.  One, to enhance the best-in-class trade programs and product offerings that continue to fuel the success of our retail partners. Two, to continue being at the forefront in the fight to protect the interests of the entire premium cigar industry against the imposition of unreasonable burdens that restrict our industry’s ability to market and sell our products to adult consumers.

We recognize that some may mischaracterize our decision, distort the truth, or misrepresent facts.  Let each of us be clear. Our commitment to our industry and to our retail partners has never been stronger.  Our sole motivation is to seek pathways that are more valuable for the entire premium cigar industry. 

Lastly, we each remain committed to engaging in transparent and honest dialogue with any and all industry partners about how best to reinvigorate our trade show, as well as to preserve and protect the interests of the entire premium cigar industry.  The betterment, advancement, and ongoing success of our industry has been – and remains – our only motivation and goal.

Another trade organization, the Cigar Rights of America (CRA), who works closely with the PCA on a number of legislative matters, also chimed in on the announcement: