Two years ago, the renowned cigar brands J.Cortès and Oliva Cigars began a new stage in their long history as manufacturers, with a name that unifies them: The Vandermarliere Cigar Family.
A little of the history of both:
J. Cortès Cigars
The Belgian company J. Cortès Cigars, a major European producer of machine-made cigars, has been owned by the Vandermarliere family since 1926. Its founder, Maurits Vandermarliere, began making cigars in the attic of his cigar store in Moen, Belgium. In 1936, when demand grew too great for the attic production line, he opened a small cigar factory in Heestert, a nearby village, where he began producing smaller, machine-made cigars.
Until 1965, they grew at the pace of demand and, from 1965 onwards, Maurits' youngest son Guido joined the company and began to lead the export business, enabling the company to quickly reach a higher level. As part of their growth strategy, between 1975 and 1979 they acquired the traditional and well-known Belgian brands of machine-made cigars, Neos Cigar and TAF, which allowed them to significantly increase production.
For four decades, Guido successfully led the company, making it a global player, and in 2005 Frederik, his youngest son, joined the company and began to take the reins, this time with an eye on the powerful and attractive U.S. market.
In 2016, with his sights set on the large U.S. market, Fred acquires Oliva Cigars, an artisanal cigar company based in the U.S. and Nicaragua.
Its beginnings date back to 1886, when Melanio Oliva obtained his first tobacco harvest in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, where they grew tobacco in that country until the early 1960s, when they were forced to leave Cuba. After a time of exploring some Latin American countries, they settled in Nicaragua.
In 1995, Gilberto, Melanio's grandson, founded Oliva Cigar Co. with which he reconquered the prestige they had as Cuban producers. Such was their success that, just 10 years later, they had huge cultivation areas distributed in the Nicaraguan territory, and had become one of the largest growers of Cuban seed tobacco in Nicaragua and reached the second position as tobacco producers in Nicaragua.
Four years later, in 2009, they produced 13 million cigars, which were made with tobacco harvested by themselves in Estelí, Condega, Jalapa and Somoto, all located in Nicaragua. During the following years they obtained great success and recognition and, in 2014, they obtained the coveted award, "Cigar of the Year", granted by Cigar Aficionado magazine in its annual rating.
By 2016, when it was acquired by the Belgian company, it was producing nearly 16 million cigars, 95% of which were sold in the U.S. market.
At the present time:
Today, both companies are owned by the Vandermarliere family. The company has been restructured under the name Vandermarliere Cigar Family, although J.Cortès will remain the leader of the company's machine-made cigar business, and the handmade cigar division will be headed by Oliva.
Since 2020, the family started buying farms and growing tobacco, thus achieving the desired vertical integration of the business, from seed to final product. They are investing in new technologies and consolidating their position in the U.S. cigar market, the largest in the world.