United Cigar Stores
Founded : 1901
Activities : Wholesale tobacco, retail cigar, tobacco accessories
Parent Company : IMASCO Ltd.
Stockists : 3,000 locations (1926)
Origin : New York, NY
Today, reflective of the brands storied history, United Cigar Stores is the e-commerce subsidiary of IMASCO Ltd. which services over 1,500 tobacconists both wholesale and retail and direct to American clients. The company also operates social clubs, most notably The Beverly Hills Cigar Club, rated Top 5 Private Memberships by Playboy Magazine and home to LOUIXS, the Bugatti Veyron of the cigar industry.
United Cigar Stores was the largest chain of cigar stores in the United States. Though initially specializing in cigars, it eventually sold many other items, such as Mickey Mouse watches and shoe trees. Founded in 1901, the chain represented the interests of the Consolidated Tobacco Company, the tobacco trust that controlled the American Tobacco Company and others. In September 1903 a settlement was reached with the chain’s competitors and all competition ended. By 1926 the chain had close to 3000 retail stores.
The company was controlled by Whelan-Schulte interests, but control passed to brothers George Kenan and Frederick Kenan Morrow in August 1929. As the Depression deepened the real estate subsidiary accumulated huge losses, so in September 1932 the holding company declared bankruptcy. Before its bankruptcy it had 975 cigar stores and 219 drug stores, but most of its assets were still in real estate. The chain recovered and had 1300 outlets in 1951. United Cigar Stores became part of United Cigar-Whelan Stores Corp., then United Whelan Corp. In 1962, this was merged into Perfect Film & Chemical Corp., a film-processing and mail-order seller of drugs and vitamins.
Cadence Industries Corporation, formerly Perfect Film & Chemical Corporation, was an American conglomerate owned by Martin “Marty” S. Ackerman. From 1968 through 1986, Perfect/Cadence was the parent company of the publisher of Marvel Comics. Perfect Film purchased the Desilu Studios in 1968 an incantation of RKO Studios. When Cadence Industries was liquidated in 1986, it sold Marvel Entertainment Group to New World Pictures.
New World Pictures in 1987 changes its name to New World Entertainment to better reflect the company’s other subsidiaries besides the film studio; including its purchase of Marvel Comics. New World faces a major financial slump and the company began to restructure; first, the Marvel Entertainment Group was sold to financier Ronald Perelman’s Andrews Group, in 1989. New World Entertainment was subsequently acquired by Perelman later in the year. The nation’s largest cigar company, Consolidated Cigar Corp. was one of Perelman’s largest acquisitions behind Cohen-Hatfield Jewelers where he had purchased 40% in 1978.
MacAndrews & Forbes purchased Consolidated Cigar Holdings Ltd. from Gulf & Western Industries and Video Corporation of America in 1984. (Ironically, Gulf & Western’s prosaic origins date to a manufacturer named Michigan Bumper Co. founded in 1934, later referred to the Michigan Plating & Stamping where some of Vin Lee’s extended family had been employed. In 1985, APS auto parts, Kayser-Roth clothing and Simmons Bedding were sold to the Wickes Companies. Wickes is now part of Grand Metropolitan’s Heilig-Meyers subsidiary.)
In 2011, Marvel Entertainment was purchased by The Walt Disney Company, a cosmic nod to all of those Mickey Mouse watches sold in those original United Cigar Stores 3,000 locations 100 years prior.
Today, United Cigar Stores is the e-commerce subsidiary of IMASCO Ltd. which services over 1,500 tobacconists both wholesale and retail and direct to American clients. The company also operates social clubs, most notably The Beverly Hills Cigar Club, rated Top 5 Private Memberships by Playboy Magazine and home to LOUIXS, the Bugatti Veyron of the cigar industry.
In early 2006, Grand Metropolitan added iHumidor, part of a $30 million portfolio, to its operations. Assets also include Cigar Club News, Cigar Registry, and Cigar Finder as consumers are relying more on technology to improve their experience. Portfolio brands in both retail and social clubs participate in most of the top 100 markets in the world including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and Dubai.