Paul Bugge Specializes in Boutique Cigars

Top quality paired with limited availability- this combination has been familiar to cigar friends for quite a while. The idea behind this is as plausible as it is promising: top quality can not be produced in limitless quantities. And that which is rare on the market stimulates the collectors’ instinct. After all, it was for this reason that the concept of the limited editions was conceived in reference to global brands. Unlike the corporations, the output of boutique manufacturers is kept by definition within modest limits, making their label all the more interesting for the connoisseur. It is our intention to offer high-quality products which are not everyday fare“, says Daniel Höldke about the importer Paul Bugge. The young graduate in business management is in charge of procurement, distribution and marketing in the company of his father, Norbert. „Our experience shows, on the one hand, that the German cigar-smoker is very interested in trying out new products.

On the other hand, European consumers are quite well-informed regarding which varieties of non-Cuban cigars are available in the USA, however not about those in Germany, Switzerland or Austria.We want to fill these gaps successively.“ By that the Paul Bugge enterprise pursues a strategy which can be clearly distinguished from those of other importers. While most of the wholesalers concentrate on well-established and well-known brands, Bugge works according to the „demand-pull“ and the „demand-push“ principles: discovering which products the curious aficionado would like to sample, or actively searching for classy brands which don’t have a foothold in Europe yet.


A classic boutique rarity – Cuvée Grand from Cusano | Photo: Bugge

Norbert and Daniel Höldke had already encountered their first experiences as wholesalers years ago with the brands of Bugge Culture and Casa Culinaria. However, their decision to make a name for themselves as importers of boutique labels matured only gradually. In the course of their annual visits to trade fairs in the USA, these cigar traders from the German town of Villingen-Schwenningen met brand founders like Mike Chiusano, Dr. Garo Bouldoukian and Heather L. Phillips. And with descendants of well-known tobacco families, such as Rafael Nodal and Ernesto Padilla. „It is the moving stories behind the brands which fascinate me, the touching fates of the families involved and the enthusiasm of these people for tobacco. For them, cigars represent not only profession but passion.“ Norbert and Daniel Höldke want to transfer this enthusiasm of the manufacturers on to their customers.

We are very interested in retaining as close contact as possible with tobacconists“, says Daniel Höldke. „We have established a Paul Bugge Cigar Academy which is supplying a maximum of information to the tobacconist, trains the personnel and also supports events. Furthermore, we are trying to set up direct contact between the specialized trade and producers. For example, subsequent to the Intertabac, Garo Bouldoukian will be accompanying us on numerous visits all over Germany. This is how the consumers also learn to know the faces and the stories behind the products.“

The committment to quality instead of quantity at Paul Bugge is reflected in their business practices. Daniel Höldke: „We are also supplying small tobacconists. There are no minimal quantities to be ordered with us and no obligation to carry certain brands. Finally, our offer is geared to specialties. And specialties are simply not mass-produced products.“ Presently, approximately 100 tobacconists throughout Germany are carrying the imports of Paul Bugge in their product ranges.

His journalistic career began in 1979 as a freelancer for German-language newspapers in the US, and later for Austrian media including Die Wochenpresse and Das Wirtschaftsblatt. For ten years he also produced programs for over 60 radio stations around the world. In 1994, Reinhold C. Widmayer devoted himself to all things cigar, publishing technical articles in cigar magazines. He began working for Cigar Journal in 2001 and became editor-in-chief in 2005; under his auspices the journal has established itself as the world’s leading cigar magazine.


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