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Cigares & Co

Gerard : a real institution
N° 9


The Gérard dynasty rules over the Geneva cigar world with renowned expertise. An interview with Vahé Gérard, the keeper of a flame that has been passed down from a legendary father a tradition that is not likely to go up in smoke.

Speaking about Gérards is like commenting on a veritable institution : extreme care has to be taken! Another reason for this is that Vahé Gerard, who has managed the business alone since the death of his father, has a particularly strong character and equally strong ideas on how his business should be described! Don't get me wrong though, he hasn't refused to answer my questions nor is he behaving like a star in spite of his shop's international reputation and the fact that he has written reference books translated into numerous languages! He refuses, however, to speak quickly about cigars. He was born into the cigar trade and has consecrated his life to them. A conversation with Vahé Gerard should be like a double corona - it should be savored. Mr Gérard has spoken, we obey. We book our hotel for another day more than we had planned to leave the time necessary to interview a professional of the Noga-Hilton à la manière de…. Vahé Gérard.

Cigares & Co : Until now, Geneva has always been considered as the only city in Europe where the cigar has an authentic noble pedigree. Do you think that time, changes in the market and the EEC have modified this?
Vahé Gérard : Not in the least. Geneva is the cigar capital of the world and no other city can claim this privileged position. Of course it is Davidoff who first contributed to building this image, followed by others. In particular, our firm has tried to strengthen this position that the whole world envies us for.

Cigares & Co : When I go into your boutique, I feel like I am walking the halls of the UNO…
Vahé Gérard . if you say so {smile). Of course you are right, our clientele is mostly international and it is not unusual for there to be four or five different nationalities in the shop at the same time, united by the love of cigars.

Cigares & Co : Over the last ten years, the cigar has become increasingly fashionable, while smokers are getting younger. How do you explain this phenomenon?
Vahé Gérard : First of all, in our firm, we don't really like the term "smokers", rather we prefer "degustateur" or "taster". We don't think our clients as consumers, but rather as members of a family who share the same passion.

Cigares & Co : in other words, the family has expanded?
Vahé Gérard : Yes, without a doubt, more and more people appreciate cigars. As for as the fashion you referred to, I think it has died down a bit but it would be a mistake to explain everything in terms of a simple trend. On the five continents, behaviors are not the same. A trend in Asia is not the same as in Eastern Europe or the Middle East. Beware of preconceived ideas! The history of Gérard is part of a tradition in which opportunism has no place. Only cigar lovers interest us!

Cigares & Co : There is no denying that you occupy a special position on the Geneva chessboard. Is it your personality that counts no more than the product or the other way round?
Vahé Gérard : First of all, both my sister Marie-Chritine and I have a very personal relationship with anyone who comes into the shop. We make people feel at home, listen carefully to their needs and often act as guides. Our passion for the cigar means that we consider the customer to be a member of the family, the tribe, as we were talking about earlier.

Cigares & Co : Is this the heritage that your father passed on to you when he died?
Vahé Gérard : My father taught us the meaning of rigor and self-discipline, this essential ethic at the service of a unique passion, for don't forget that we are only craftsmen at the service of the cigar. He didn't leave me a business, but rather a whole store of knowledge, how can I explain ? a university…

Cigares & Co : Is this why the name "Gérard Père et Fils" is still used?
Vahé Gérard : Yes, for it is the expression of a tradition. It is a family history that has passed on knowledge, expertise, but also pleasure, and all that it implies…

Cigares & Co : Don't you also encourage a certain cult of the personality in your numerous books and CD ROMs ?
Vahé Gérard : Consider the fact that it is a modem means of sharing in the passion of all cigar lovers. We publish books with the same care that we offer advice in our Geneva boutique. If this increases our reputation, so much the better!

Cigares & Co : You now have an lntemet site, don't you?
Vahé Gérard : All of the leading firms have a site but we plan on developing ours in the months to come. We have some surprises in store but for the moment I can't tell you about them!

Cigares & Co : As a good Swiss man, do you cull discretion?
Vahé Gérard : The quality of your magazine Cigares & Co (take note that I am usually very sparing with compliments), obliges me to give you inside information about our newest developments. And that's a promise.

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