Still, better U.S.-Cuban relations have helped stoke a boom in tourism, which in turn has lifted cigar sales in Cuba, according to Habanos. The number of visitors to the island rose 13 percent last year.
“Our sales in Cuba are directly related to tourism, and in effect, sales in Cuba have grown,” TerrΘs said.
Habanos said its traditional European markets had remained stable last year, while there was growth in emerging markets like the Middle East and Pacific Asia.
Meanwhile, female smokers remain a largely untapped market for Habanos, TerrΘs said. The company is working on it but has learned that producing smaller, milder versions of its classic cigars is not the answer.
“Actually, women want to smoke big cigars and enjoy them like a man,” he said, adding it was important to draw in women with specific promotional events.