Date: October 2019
Author: Inspector Z

J. Cortes buys Dutch cigar distributor J. van Horssen BV. Well, not completely. But the Belgian cigar giant bought the machinemade division of J. Van Horssen B.V. J. Van Horssen BV is a family business founded in 1943. The sale goes in effect on January first. A few years ago, Cortes purchased Oliva too.

During the German occupation of The Netherlands Jan van Horssen decided to grown tobacco, cut it and sell it in and around Sliedrecht, The Netherlands. Little did he know that the company would still be 76 years later.

Not as tobacco growers, but as importers and distributors. During those years, the company changed. And with the third generation in charge, more changes are to come. These changes are needed to prepare the company for the future. There are five pillars under the foundation of the business.

The five pillars

The first pillar, the machine-made cigars, is now sold to J. Cortes. J. Van Horssen BV distributes several brands of those throughout the country. Most of them are budget cigars. Their most famous brands are Hofnar and G. De Graaff. Eenmalig is probably the best selling brand from its portfolio. And the company sells a lot of private label cigars for shops.

Ministry of cigars J. Cortes buys Dutch cigar distributor

The second pillar is roll-your-own tobacco. The brands David & Goliath and Rancho are amongst the best selling roll your own tobacco brands in the country.

The third pillar is Van Horssen Market. The company has a cooperation with several vendors who sell tobacco on farmers markets. Their assortment includes the Van Horssen brand roll-your-own tobacco and cigars. At some farmers markets, even some budget premium cigars are sold. Van Horssen has a small percentage in the cooperation.

Premium cigars and retail

The fourth pillar is Longfiller Company. Somewhere in the 1990s, the third generation of the family started this. Ilja and Sasja saw that premium cigars would be the future. So they started importing and selling premium cigars. Ilja sold his share to Sasja to found the Cuesta Rey Cigar Shop in The Hague. After his passing, his wife Yvonne turned the shop in the first La Casa del Habano in The Netherlands. Currently, Longfiller Company is the largest independent premium cigar distributor in The Netherlands.

The fifth pillar is retail. Sasja van Horssen opened his first shop in Den Bosch. Almost a decade later he bought Van Dalen Cigars in Rotterdam. The Van Dalen brothers were the first shop in The Netherlands with a walk-in humidor. But with retirement looming and no successors, they sold the shop to Van Horssen. And the same thing happened earlier this year. Ted Bogers in Dordrecht sold his shop to Van Horssen too. But the flagship store is Cigaragua in the museum quarter of Amsterdam. The first, and only, cigar shop in the world that only sells cigars made in Nicaragua.

The future

Some of the staff already found employment with J. Cortes. Only a few people from the Sliedrecht headquarters will remain with Van Horssen to take care of the Longfiller Company. The employees in retail won’t be affected by the changes.

With the sale of the machine-made pillar, Sasja van Horssen can focus all his time on the Longfiller Company and the roll-your-own tobacco. And to his retail shops. Van Horssen told us that he needed to make changes as the Longfiller Company, the roll-your-own tobacco, and the retail need more and more focus and energy. And that while the machine-made took up most of the resources and time.

The new lean and mean J van Horssen BV will be more focussed. And because of that, there is time, energy and enough cash flow to jump on opportunities when they arise. .

Cortes, Oliva, and J. van Horssen

There is a link between Oliva, Van Horssen and Cortes. While visiting the Oliva factory, Van Horssen noticed containers full of clippings. When he asked about those, Gilberto Oliva said that some was sold, and the rest would be discarded. With his background in machine-made cigars, Van Horssen and Oliva developed the Oliva Viejo Mundo. And in Cortes, they found a manufacturer specialized in machine-made cigars. Eventually, that led to Cortes buying Oliva. And now Cortes buys the Dutch cigar distributor.

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