Habanos will this year seek to expand and diversify its presence in China, according to the company’s development vice president Jose Maria Lopez, speaking during an interview with the Xinhua News Agency.

Lopez said there was great potential for increasing sales in China, which, in the medium term, could become Habanos’ most important market.

The story said that, according to ‘official figures’, China became the third largest market for the company in 2017, after Spain and France, with an increase in sales of 33 percent on those of 2016.

Due to a growing demand for premium cigars in China, Habanos reached an agreement with the China National Tobacco Corporation in the summer of 2017 to increase sales and work together to promote a knowledge of, and taste for, Cuban cigars in China.

Lopez said that Chinese consumers preferred Habanos’ most exclusive products, including its Cohiba brand, “which is our most important trademark and greatest exponent of luxury within the Cuban cigar market”.

“Between 40 and 50 percent of the Chinese demand is concentrated in the Cohiba brand, which is very high,” said Lopez. “One of our intentions when we talk about developing the tobacco culture in that country is to educate the Chinese consumer that not all cigars are Cohiba.”

Working with the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, through which domestic imports are made to the Chinese mainland, growth rates of between 20 and 30 percent per year were expected, said Lopez.

In addition, the company has shops in China’s Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, and it is working to attract customers through the China Duty Free Group in the two regions.

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