J.Cortès brings family name to the fore under Vandermarliere Cigar Family

By Luke Barras-hill |

J.Cortès and Oliva Cigars have merged under one distinct umbrella: Vandermarliere Cigar Family.

Belgian cigar manufacturer J.Cortès has brought together its Oliva Cigars and J.Cortès brands under one umbrella: Vandermarliere Cigar Family.

The company founded by Maurits Vandermarliere in 1926 – and today boasts factories in Belgium, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic – has positioned Oliva Cigars as the parent company for all its handmade cigars.

Meanwhile, J.Cortès will remain the headline for the company’s machine-made cigars.

Fred Vandermarliere, CEO and the third generation of the family to run the business, said: “It makes sense to make clear our two distinct divisions. Under Vandermarliere Cigar Family, all our brands now come together for the first time.”

The move consolidates the hand-made Oliva Cigars (pictured) and machine-made J.Cortès divisions under one umbrella.

NEW BEGINNINGS

Under the watchful eye of Maurits’ son Guido Vandermarliere, the company has grown its presence significantly in the past four decades.

In 2005, Guido passed the reins to son Fred, though Guido remains actively involved as Chairman in the business he helped pioneer.

Fred charted the next chapter in the company’s history in 2016 when it acquired US-based Oliva Cigars – another family business – and in the process forged a bond with Gilberto Oliva.

In February this year J. Cortès purchased the Oliva Cigar family’s leaf operations and three tobacco farms in Nicaragua.

“It’s one thing to buy a business, quite another to run it,” said Fred. “But it was because our families were so closely aligned that we made it happen. I didn’t want to come in and change everything – I wanted them to continue as they had always done. It was another milestone in our history.”

“We have invested massively in tobacco,” he continued. “This emphasises our belief in the hand-rolled cigars and in the future of people who love to enjoy them.

The entrepreneurial flair of Guido Vandermarliere established J. Cortès as a global player in the 1980s.

“We wanted to create the best possible conditions for the people who work for us – down to the chairs they sit in, the environment they work in. We have refurbished an old factory, completely built a new, state-of-the-art one.

“In 2020, I became a farmer; we purchased farms so that we are now also in the business of growing tobacco ourselves. For the first time, we are vertically integrated from seed to the end product.

“We’re blending, creating, thinking about new cigars all the time; they’ll come when they are ready.

“It’s an exciting time for the company; we’re investing in new technology, working closely with local farmers for the benefit of the land.

“In the past, we have become known as J Cortès in Europe; Oliva in the United States. But, in reality, we are all part of the Vandermarliere Cigar Family. We are a family which sells relaxation. That will never change.”

This year, the company celebrates 95 years of trading.

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