Sources Speculate Famous Smoke Shop Expected to be Sold to Oliva Cigars

The highest volume independent online cigar company is, yet again, expected to be sold to a cigar manufacturer as direct to consumer sales continue in the cigar industry.

Famous Smoke Shop was formed in 1939 by David and Rose Zaretsky in New York City. In the year 2000, after increased taxes in NY, Arthur Zaretsky, son of the founders of the company and then owner, moved its operations to Pennsylvania. Famous Smoke Shop was a U.S. family owned company and operated for 79 years, but things are about to change.

After the sale of online cigar giant J. R. Cigar in 2003 to British owned multinational manufacturer of cigarettes, tobacco and cigars Imperial Tobacco, including Altadis who make Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, H. Upmann among others and following the sale of Cigars International to Scandinavian Tobacco Group, a Denmark publicly listed Company on NASDAQ, with brands including Macanudo, Cohiba, CAO, Punch among others, Famous Smoke Shop is now the largest independently owned and operated U.S based online cigar company.

J. Cortes, a foreign owned company based in Belgium, produces in excess of 500 million machine made cigars per year along with roll your own cigarette tobacco, has been in the tobacco industry for almost 100 years but not in the premium cigar industry. In 2016, J. Cortes entered the premium industry by purchasing family owned, U.S based Oliva Cigars with brands including Oliva and Nub.

Multiple unnamed sources speculate J. Cortes has formed a company to acquire Famous Smoke Shop to now become the 5th premium cigar manufacturer to sell direct to consumer, in competition against the retailers and online companies that sell their brands. Other manufacturers that already sell direct to consumer include Altadis, General, Ashton/Fuente, Davidoff and next expected will be Oliva Cigars, but this acquisition has a little hook to it.

Keith Meier founded and built Cigars International in 1996. In 2007, Meier sold what was the largest online cigar company to Swedish Match, now Scandinavian Tobacco Group, who owns and operates General Cigar. Multiple unnamed sources speculate Meier will be an investor and owner along with J. Cortes, owner of Oliva Cigar, in this joint-partnership, and Meier could, according to speculation take over the day to day operations of Famous Cigars immediately following the purchase.

When completed, this is expected to ignite an online price war, and who knows if Famous Smoke Shop will soon get into the retail cigar shop business much like General Cigar has done with Cigar International and Altadis did with Casa Montecristo? Only time will tell.


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