Kretek International has announced it will not exhibit at the 2020 Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show this July. The decision includes all of the company’s subsidiaries including Phillips and King as well as Ventura Cigar Company. Kretek is also the parent company that runs the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) Trade Show, which has been positioning itself in the past couple of years as a rival to the long-standing PCA Trade Show. According to Kretek, the company has been at the RTDA/IPCPR/PCA’s show for over 35 years, and Phillips & King has been a buyer and exhibitor for over 50 years.
“We have always treated the PCA trade show as a smart launching pad for new releases and the best opportunity for retailers and suppliers to meet and build strong relationships,” says Sean Cassar, President of Kretek International, Inc in a press release. “We’ve enjoyed learning about industry trends while receiving some of the biggest orders of our year at the show. The decision to move away from PCA was not an easy one, but after reviewing the state of the industry and our business, we recognized that our goals are not aligned.”
Kretek cited PCA’s direction in terms of the battle against regulation as a reason for not being aligned with the goals, but offered little in the way of specifics on where the issues were divided.
“Our Canadian subsidiary operated under this exact pretense,” says Cassar noting Kretek saw the impacts of regulation in Canada. “And the results were devastating. Driven primarily through big tobacco’s efforts, the market went dark, cigar stores lost their ability to have smoking lounges, stores could no longer advertise products, and in the end the market went to plain packaging across all categories. Small, independent family businesses in this environment had taken the approach that it was better to give up an arm to save the body. But in the end the regulators took both the arms, the legs, and whatever else they could find. And we’re just not willing to go down that road- especially when we know the outcome.”
The press release goes on to say, “Kretek believes that all cigar manufacturers and Importers should be working together, willing to openly discuss and manage efforts, as part of the PCA rebranding initiatives. This rebranding must direct the Premium Cigar legislative and regulatory endeavors in order to get the most benefit from the collective financial contributions made by the industry, and not to splinter the collective into separate entities.”
“Kretek and Phillips & King is a family-owned company who has supported brick and mortar retailers in all fifty states for over 114 years. They have always felt the importance to support other family-owned businesses who have helped build the business, by coming together as a united force. Kretek does not believe the PCA is moving in this direction, but rather one that seems to sacrifice segments of the industry in hopes of saving others.”
At the same time, there was no mention of the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) 2020 Trade Show opening in a week. While both companies have on the surface presented a cooperative front, there is little doubt TPE has been positioning itself as an alternative to the PCA Trade Show. TPE 2020 has offered incentives to manufacturers, retailers and media to attend the 2020 show opening January 29th, 2020, in Las Vegas Nevada.
Kretek is the largest company since The Big Four (Altadis, Davidoff of Geneva, Drew Estate, and General Cigar Company) to announce they will not attend the PCA Trade Show. Philips and King offers brands sold by each of the four companies through its distribution channel.