Cigars Flury AG

Cigarren Flury AG has been family-owned since its foundation in 1867. It is probably the oldest tobacco store in Switzerland. "I remember as if it were yesterday: on May 30, 1991, my father called me at the bank and said that there was an urgent meeting with the trustee today at 5:15 p.m. at the Schweizerhof. Zack - my father hung up and I sat at the desk and had the greatest concerns that something had probably happened to the company," Hubert Jacques Choquard, the current owner, tells me. What happened on that memorable day?'s INSIDER mailing list
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Cold, gloves and cap

Let's take a leap back. It was Christmas in 1968. Hubert Jacques Choquard was a 10-year-old boy. His parents were owners of Cigarren Flury AG. "Guätä Taaag," the bright boy said when customers wanted to go into the store. He opened the door for them and bowed a little in greeting. He also opened the door to the customers who had just bought their Christmas presents and were about to leave the store. "Schöööni Wiänächte, dancke vielmoool," he said, again with a little bow.

Cigars Flury AG
Hubert Jacques Choquard is the owner of Cigarren Flury AG. Since its foundation in 1867, the tobacco store has been family-owned and is probably the oldest tobacco store in Switzerland.

He was standing outside the store. "It was freezing cold," Hubert Jacques Choquard laughs as he tells me. "I had nice gloves on, a cap of course, and I was wrapped up warm. But that contact with the customers, at that moment, I really enjoyed it!"

"I always got to hear everything at dinner when my parents talked about business," he tells me. "That sparked my interest early on. I remember once opening a drawer in the store and seeing a pack of cigarettes: that cost CHF 1.25 a pack at the time. But what always fascinated me most was the smell in the store. That typical sweet-tart smell of tobacco."

Cigars Flury AG
Wow - listed and "the good old days". Welcome to Cigarren Flury. Please, come in!

Out of the question at all!

Later, the time had come for Hubert Jacques Choquard to do an apprenticeship. Preferably in his parents' business. "Out of the question!" his father told him at the time. "Something like this is the easiest way!" his father added.

Here you will find Cigarren Flury AG:

And he continues: "You'll first earn your spurs outside our company. You'll first go to a three-year commercial business school." Zack - end of discussion! At that time, his parents and his aunt worked in his parents' company. After that, he spent two years studying in England, Italy and Spain.

Learning to handle money

After that, Hubert Jacques Choquard worked at the bank and learned how to handle money properly. "I also worked for the bank for two years in Singapore," he said.

Later he worked again in Switzerland and was an investment advisor in a Swiss bank. He worked in banking for a total of 10 years. "And just then, that day on May 30, 1991, my father summoned me to the Schweizerhof. At 5.15 p.m. there was an urgent meeting with the trustee of the company and my parents. I thought, sure, the company is probably bankrupt, although it can't be!"

You must quit immediately!

When he arrived at the Schweizerhof, the meeting started and his father said, "Your aunt is down at the company. You have to join us and quit the bank immediately." Hubert Jacques Choquard felt a punch in the pit of his stomach. The aunt has dropped out, oh dear, and now? And anyway, what does that mean, you have to join us? Buy the company? Run the company? How am I supposed to do that? These thoughts and feelings raced from the gut to the brain and back to the gut in a split second. "This was my entry into the cigar business."

Cigars Flury AG
What a sight! Look at the art nouveau glass at the back...
Cigars Flury AG
...this is what I meant. Isn't it fantastic? The monument authority in Bern gave Hubert Jacques Choquard before the reconstruction in 2010 the condition that this must be covered by nothing - and really by nothing (!) - and that it must be seen uncovered from the store window and the store interior.

"What notice period do you have?" his father asked him. He was a man who did not waste time and said directly, clearly and precisely what he thought. "Uh - two months," Hubert Jacques replied. "Good! Tomorrow is May 31, you quit, and on Monday, Aug. 2, 1991, you start at the store." The meeting was over. Zack - boom - his father didn't fidget for long! The thoughts and feelings kept circling in Hubert Jacques' head for a while that evening. The next day, he handed his resignation to his supervisor. "I'm joining my parents' business," he announced to him. "I think I was a little proud, but I also had respect for it," he explained to me.

Cigars Flury AG
Whatever your heart desires for the cultivated smoking pleasure - you will find it at Cigarren Flury AG.

You can't hide behind your parents anymore!

The familiarization with the new task as a future entrepreneur began as early as July 1991. He was still working at the bank and there was always a lot to talk about in the evenings and on weekends. "I worked with my parents for 4.5 years, until the end of 1994, learning the business." Again, his father was always precise and direct. "As of 01.01.1995, you take over the company," he told him.

Hubert Jacques Choquard thought. His thoughts were crystal clear: "As of Tuesday, January 3, 1995, when you stand in the store, you can't hide behind your parents anymore!"

Cigars Flury AG
The walk-in humidor with Habanos and cigars from other countries.

"When I unlocked the door to the store on January 3, 1995," he tells me, "it was a very special moment. I went behind the counter and that's when I realized: Everything I decide and do from now on is my responsibility."

Our conversation was silent for a few seconds. I allowed this moment of pause and did not immediately pester him with the next question. "Yes, that Tuesday was really a very special day for me," Hubert Jacques concluded his account of this stage in his professional life.

I address him on the subject of the availability of the Cuba cigars." "How do you experience the situation in 2022?" - "It's a very interesting situation," he says. "Our warehouse is almost empty, compared to the past. Currently, there exists an excess demand for Cuba cigars. About half of our sales, customers take to the Asian region. When I order cigars, I get only a part of my order; but of the specialties, or larger and thicker formats, are allocated. Either you buy them right away, or you don't.

It is also exciting because we keep a list of which customers we have sold which cigars to. Because I don't want to put anyone at a disadvantage. If someone gets a box of Cohiba Behike today, then someone else should get a box of Cohiba Behike in a few weeks."

Cigars Flury AG
Cigarren Flury AG is Habanos Specialist and therefore gets more Habanos allocated by the official importer Intertabak AG. Even in the current hard times, during the striking supply shortages in 2021 and 2022, there's a little more Habanos than in other stores that do not have special status.

"What about your lounge? How's business?" I ask him. He laughs and says, "Haiaiai - that's a story all its own!" Okay, I'm all ears! He tells me, "The lounge is in the same building, up on the 6th floor. The space became available, I think it was in 2018. I made a business plan and talked to the landlord. We were awarded the space. In 2019, we remodeled.

Cigars Flury AG
Finally! The new lounge can be officially opened in May 2022! It was planned for 2020, but then came the pandemic.

We invested a lot of money in the furniture - which was partly handmade in Italy, according to my specifications. Then everything was furnished (and I also did the innkeeper's license). We wanted to open in 2020. And you know what happened then in March..."

Cigars Flury AG
The furniture is custom-made from Italy. Here Cigarren Flury AG has invested a lot of money in quality and seating comfort.

"Pandemic and lockdown," I exclaimed. - "Exactly!" he replied. "Can you imagine this mess? We invested money and were ready to pamper and serve our customers in the new lounge. Because the situation was so uncertain even after that, we left the lounge closed. But now, in May 2022, we're finally getting started! And we're really looking forward to that in particular!"

Cigars Flury AG
Spirits and humidors. Thanks to the innkeeper's license, alcohol may also be enjoyed with cigars in the lounge.

"How have you arranged your succession?" I ask. "The company remains in family ownership. Since the summer of 2021, our long-time employee, Ms. Tamara Burri, has been the managing director. I will gradually retire and work in the company as a consultant."

Finally, I want to know which top three Cuba cigars he likes best? "It depends on a few parameters," he explains. "How much time do I have? Do I want to enjoy the cigar before dinner or after dinner? What do I drink with it? Is it summer or winter (what's the temperature)? Then I like to choose a Cuba cigar with ring 50 up. I rarely use thinner cigars. I don't prefer a particular brand, it also depends on my mood," he laughs.

We conclude our conversation with him saying again, "Can you imagine? In 1968, a pack of cigarettes cost CHF 1.25!" We both laugh.

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By Vasilij Ratej

I am the editor of Zigarren.Zone online magazine and FlashCigar (online magazine). In addition to text articles, I also produce video clips and video documentaries. My aim is to offer my readers and viewers a unique experience and bring them closer to the world of cigars and stories about people. I attach great importance to authenticity and honesty in my contributions.

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