The Michael Giannini era at General Cigar Company has come to a close. Giannini, the dynamic personality who served as the company’s Creative Director and Director of Innovation has departed the company.
Word of Giannini’s split with General Cigar surfaced earlier this week. Last night, both General Cigar and Giannini confirmed the split to Cigar Aficionado magazine. According to the report, Giannini was departing to explore other opportunities given he would be limited by the recent FDA regulations involved with new product development.
Giannini’s career in the cigar business spans back to the mid 1980s. After working in retail and as a sales representative, he was named the National Sales Manager for Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s El Credito company. Shortly afterwards, Perez-Carrillo sold El Credito to Swedish Match and then Swedish Match merged with General Cigar. During this time he would continue in the role as Sales Manager, but also started to have creative input with the popular La Gloria Cubana brand.
When Perez-Carrillo departed General in 2009, Giannini emerged as the face of La Gloria Cubana. From that point, he headed up what was known as “Team La Gloria” that also consisted of Rick Rodriguez (now of CAO) and Yuri Guillen. During this time, Giannini implemented creativity and innovation while keeping to the traditions of La Gloria Cubana. Such projects included the segmented wrapper on the La Gloria Cubana Artesnaos de Tabaqueros; the “N” that is present on the wrapper of La Gloria Cubana Serie N; the concept of increasing the importance of the binder and filler for the flavor profile of the La Gloria Cubana Artsenos Retro Especiale; and smokeable bands with the La Gloria Cubana Trunk Show. Perhaps is most ambitious project was the unique vitola on the La Gloria Cubana Artesansos de Obelisco which was modeled more after the shape of the “Heroes of the Restoration” monument located in the city of Santiago (Dominican Republic).
With success at La Gloria Cubana, Giannini’s role was expanded in 2012 as he was named Creative Director and Director of Innovation. While he remained active with La Gloria Cubana, he now had creative input across the whole General Cigar portfolio. Later that year, he became the creative force behind a new boutique-styled subsidiary in General Cigar known as Foundry.
Foundry became Giannini’s most creative endeavor to date. He incorporated themes such as Steampunk, the Age of Edison and Tesla, the Periodic Table of Elements, and Time Travel. Last year, he incorporated traditional brands of Ramon Allones and Bolivar into Foundry. This year, he worked on a collaboration with A.J. Fernandez. While some applauded the creative efforts of the Foundry brand, there have been some that have questioned his successful the brand has been.
The Cigar Aficionado article seems to indicate that Giannini does still intend to try to remain in the industry. While no word for a replacement for Giannini was named, Cigar Coop has been able to confirm that Justin Andrews, who joined Foundry last year will remain in the brand.