Heintz van Landewyck
The Heintz van Landewyck Group
Manufacturer of Ducal, Bentley, Maryland, and First.
HvL is an independent Luxembourg group specialised in the manufacturing and selling of cigarettes and smoking tobacco. The group’s parent company has been founded in 1847 and its headquarters are situated in the capital of the Grand-Duchy.
The group has four major production plants : two are located in Luxembourg, one in Germany and one in Hungary. In 2000 production level reached 7.7 billion cigarettes and more than 3000 tons of fine cut and pipe tobacco.
In top of the manufacturing and sales of cigarettes and smoking tobacco, the group’s activities also cover the distribution of a wide of food products.
In the name of diversification, the group is also involved in the elector-mechanical sector, particularly in the conception and manufacturing of high precision pieces and small electronic devices.
The consolidated turnover of the group reads some 35 billion LUF (867 mio EUR) and employs 850 people of which 530 are based in Luxembourg.
Flexibility and the ability to rapidly adapt to new needs are the group’s major trump cards in a rapidly moving world market.
HEINTZ VAN LANDEWYCK
CHRONICLE OF A FAMILY SAGA
On December 29th, 1821, Mr. and Mrs. Pierre Heintz-Wagner, residing at 34, rue Beaumont, in what was then the fortress town of Luxembourg, announced the birth of their son, Jean-Pierre. The happy event was not mentioned in the pages of the Luxemburger Wochenblatt, the only weekly paper at the disposal of this town of some ten thousand inhabitants. Neither could the parents of little Jean-Pierre have known that in their eldest son they had given the country a person without equal who would be the source of one of the most spectacular adventures in the Grand-Duchy’s economic history. An adventure that continues in our times, more than a century and a half later. An adventure marked to this day by exceptional family coherence, as well as by an entrepreneurial passion passed down from generation to generation, with a success quite unlike any among the pioneering families of the industrial era in Luxembourg.
The example was set by Jean-Pierre Heintz himself, establishing his own business at the age of 25 and, in July 1847, constructing the foundations of his company by opening, at number 9, rue de la Porte Neuve, a tobacco factory and store. He had just married, on January 11th of that year, Miss Joséphine van Landewyck, 19 years old and the granddaughter of a Dutch former major who, late in life, had come to establish himself as an innkeeper and farmer at Pontpierre, in the Grand Duchy. On his sign, Jean-Pierre Heintz added the name of his wife to his own, in consideration of the renown of Dutch tobacco at the time and of possible capital gains in that market in the future. The family ‘saga’ had begun.
Jean-Pierre Heintz’s business prospered: he acquired premises in the heart of the Grand-Rue, where he established himself in 1859, as well as important parcels of land in what today is Limpertsberg, outside the walls of the fortress that the business-savvy young Heintz had already begun to feel the constraints of. The 1867 Treaty of London, which ordered the dismantling of the fortress, was put to good use by Jean-Pierre Heintz who rented premises in the central building of the former Berlaimont fort, on the side that today is the boulevard Royal. There he installed, in 1870, the first steam machine (2 horsepower!) of the Luxembourgish tobacco industry. With the fortress booming, Jean-Pierre Heintz had the wind in his sails. He bought land on the former ramparts that were being demolished, in the modern-day rue des Bains, to be precise, and there he built a new factory to satisfy the rapidly increasing demand, particularly for cigars, pipe tobacco and snuff, a demand fuelled by the return of the Alsace and Lorraine regions to Germany. Here we note a striking parallel between the evolution of the Heintz firm and the destiny of the town, now, finally, an open town and thriving with the economic development of the country as a whole.
In this year, one year before the official creation of the Hauts Fourneaux et Forges de Dudelange, cradle of Arbed, Joseph Heintz, eldest son of Jean-Pierre Heintz, born in 1848 and an associate of his father’s business from the age of 22, bought the parent factory in the rue des Bains to run himself. The way was set for the expansion of the Heintz firm that would quickly bring it to the forefront of tobacco manufacturers in the country, which at that time numbered at least twenty. Joseph Heintz, whose entrepreneurial spirit was not the least of his qualities, enlarged the factory in the rue des Bains with an annexe that extended to the boulevard Royale. This extension was borne by the tide of popularity, particularly through exportation, for cigars and pipe tobacco, cigarettes being at that time a minor item. Joseph Heintz currently had three tobacco factories in Luxembourg town: rue des Bains, boulevard Royal and rue Beck. But he came up against a problem, one become current in our modern times: the environment. The dismantling of the fortress had made the town boom and the Heintz factories, though modest in comparison with today’s industrial sites, already had to face energetic opposition from neighbours who condemned the unacceptable noise pollution, the violent clanking of machinery, the insalubrious odours, the smoke that was harmful to houses and their furnishings, the risk of fires and the depreciation of property, as noted in a letter of protestation addressed to the Police Commissioner of Luxembourg on October 11th, 1888. On reading this missive, we note that the times change very little, that the charges globally remain the same, with slightly different emphasis. Admittedly, in that era of euphoric boom, with its shortage of local labour, the problem of unemployment did not arise…
But Joseph Heintz, a wily manufacturer who sensed the coming of the industrial era, made a head start and acquired, as of 1887, industrial land in the suburb of Hollerich that had belonged to the Mines et Hauts Fourneaux de Differdange (later Hadir) company. His entrepreneurial vision dictated that he centralize his production through the creation of a factory that corresponded to the norms – in terms of size and mechanisation – of a future that promised to be rewarding.
The founder, Jean-Pierre Heintz, died on October 30th, 1892, in his house on the Grand-Rue, leaving his son Joseph as the sole proprietor of the company that now became ‘Joseph Heintz van Landewyck’. Joseph Heintz, anxious to bring his activities together in Hollerich, sold the properties in Limpertsberg that had become redundant and quickly installed a second factory on the single site. He now employed some 250 personnel, producing 90.000 to 100.000 cigars per week, 2,000 kg of smoking tobacco of all sorts and, already, limited quantities of cigarettes.
Pushed by ever-growing consumption of tobacco in the Grand Duchy, but more importantly by the export market (Germany, the French ports with their connections to the colonial empire of northern Africa and Indochina), Joseph Heintz opened, in 1894, an additional manufacturing site in Larochette, a village located roughly 30 km from Luxembourg town. Production reached 100.000 to 300.000 cigars per week, with a manpower of 80 to 100 people. For the Heintz firm, the industrial era had begun. It entered this era on an equal footing with the arrival of Victor Heintz, son of Joseph, born on April 21st, 1878 – an engineer by training. He would resolutely propel the family business into the century of the machine.
A memorable date: 50 years after the creation of the company, Joseph Heintz inaugurated the new factory, on the premises at Hollerich, that corresponded with his views as a modern industrialist. From a technical viewpoint, this plant was the spearhead of progress and would be at the heart of the company’s activities for the next forty years.
Victor Heintz introduced the first semi-automatic cigarette machine, in Hollerich. He was not the first in advocating the importance of innovation, such had the family esprit and the constant desire for a collegial collaboration between generations already entered into the ‘style’ of the company, and continued to prove itself.
Joseph Heintz converted his enterprise into a public limited company whose shares were held by members of the family. By this decisive step, he forced the cohesion of the family clan around their common work and assured, through the principle of reinvesting the profits, the necessary potential for expansion. By the same token, he allowed for the possibility of new capital flowing in, possibly from outside. Upon the death of Joseph Heintz, on October 2nd, 1912, his son Victor Heintz took over sole management of the business, following up on the commercial practices put into place by his father and perfecting fabrication methods.
With the departure of Joseph Heintz, the economy of the Grand Duchy had lost an important industrialist whose sights had been set far beyond the national borders. The Heintz firm had lost its pater familias, Luxembourg town an energetic municipal adviser and the whole country a generous man who had nothing of the puritan about him; that’s to say he was eager that any man, anywhere, should be able to live his life happy and satisfied. The popular kitchen that he ran for years in the rue des Bains bore testimony to his social conscience; in buying from the Luxembourg town council the ‘Vielle Garde’, which was to make room for the present-day ‘Cercle’, and reconstructing it piece by piece in the park at Hollerich, he showed wisdom, while treating himself to a pleasant folly.
Though out of the dark years of the First World War, the Heintz firm was not yet over its troubles. The end of the Zollverein, which since the middle of the previous century had kept the Luxembourgish economy going, led to the signing of a treaty instituting the UEBL. The economic union with Belgium, after rejection by the ironmasters of Lorraine of the referendum seeking a union with France, deprived HvL (we will henceforth use these initials to designate the company) of a market of primary importance: the Alsace and Lorraine regions, reunited – or surrendered – to France by the Treaty of Versailles, which meanwhile allowed French troops to occupy in Germany the territories situated on the left bank of the Rhine.
To preserve the traditional markets of Saarland and the German side of the Mosel river, HvL had the idea of creating a subsidiary on occupied German soil, namely, in Trier. The military occupation was almost certainly a factor in this decision, it being widely established that soldiers took tobacco to ‘calm their spirits’. Tradition has it that the cigarette was ‘invented’ in the trenches of the Crimean War. Management was entrusted to Gilles Schaack, originally from Wiltz and the descendant of a long line of tobacco manufacturers. He succeeded in turning the subsidiary company in Trier into the second most successful manufacturer of smoking tobacco in Germany. By 1957, the factory in Trier would employ 250 people. The end of the ’20s, with the closure of the factory in Larochette, was also the end of the manufacture of cigars in Luxembourg and the beginning of the new reign, since undisputed, of the cigarette. A reign which continues to this day. 1931 On December 9th, 1931, Victor Heintz died after an eventful life. However, being a man with foresight, he had assured a successor long before. In Aloyse Meyer, at that time already a key figure in the steel industry, he had an associate that was his equal, thanks to the latter’s marriage to Eugénie Heintz. Aloyse Meyer was appointed president of the board of directors of HvL. As for the management of the business, this was entrusted to Gustave Koener, an able administrator who had proved his mettle, along with Aloyse Meyer, at Arbed.
In this year, Robert Meyer, son of Aloyse Meyer and grandson of Joseph Heintz, joined the company as a young engineer. From 1939 onwards, he shared the management with Gustave Koener who, nevertheless, continued to hold HvL’s reins in hand, not retiring until 1952.
A vital year in the future development of HvL. The old installations, dating from 1897, no longer met the demands of technological progress and the construction of new buildings was begun, under the aegis of Gustave Koener. The work was completed in 1937, providing installations that for many a long year would be the core of the manufacturing capabilities in Hollerich, though the term manufacture in the sense of ‘made by hand’ had become obsolete with the progressive introduction of mechanisation.
A parenthetical aside: the death of Charles Fixmer, on November 11th, 1939, marked the end of the line of artisanal manufacturers of smoking tobacco and snuff that had made their imprint on the economy of the town of Ettelbruck. The most tenacious of these firms, the Fixmer company, was founded in 1815 by Michel Fixmer. In 1888, there were four of them in Ettelbruck, employing a total of some 50 people. Gustave Koener, an old friend of Charles Fixmer, negotiated a take-over of the Ettelbruck firm with the disinterested inheritors and made it into the first Luxembourgish subsidiary of HvL. Fixmer’s production of cigarettes was moved to Hollerich, whereas all production of pipe tobacco was concentrated in Ettelbruck. The subsidiary also became the distribution centre for HvL’s products for the north of the country. It should also be noted that in the same year the ‘Manufacture de Tabacs Heintz van Landewyck’ was constituted as a limited liability company with a capital of 9 million Luxembourgish francs, a fact of no small importance. The statutes were essentially designed to seal coherence of the families involved and to protect them against possible attacks from outside.
The company having been subjected to the law of the Nazi occupiers, Robert Meyer was dismissed from his position as director, only to regain it after the liberation, in 1944.
The postwar years were far from easy. The markets had to be re-established and new export outlets found as neither the meagre national market nor those in the immediate area met the expectations necessary for the company’s potential and its planned expansion. In 1946, cigarette production nevertheless reached 485 million units and smoking tobacco production was 159 tonnes. Moreover, the company was faced with a bottleneck supply of the tobaccos that had made the ‘Africaine’ cigarette so popular before the war. Faced with the necessity of creating for itself a new workhorse in the cigarette market, HvL then launched the ‘Maryland’ brand. The brand was met with fabulous success, particularly in the Luxembourgish market, where it gained recognition as the cigarette of choice for ‘Mr. Everyman’. As concerned exportation, a business of increasing importance, the creation of the Benelux came to the rescue of the company by opening up the borders with Belgium, which already in 1946 absorbed 311 million HvL cigarettes, and, above all, with the Netherlands, where the company succeeded in gaining an important share of the market.
The issued share capital of Manufacture de Tabacs Heintz van Landewyck, constituted in 1939 as a limited liability company, increased to 45 million francs, the number of shares remaining unchanged at 9.000.
Given the importance of the Dutch market, HvL launched the ‘Lexington’ brand and succeeded in bringing the production of these cigarettes to 1 billion units five years later. After the success of the pre-war ‘Africaine’, and its successor, the ‘Maryland’, the era of the ‘Lexington’ became a milestone in the history of the company. In 1958, more than 1.7 billion ‘Lexingtons’ were exported to the Netherlands, out of a total production by HvL, all brands together, of 2.2 billion.
The year was darkened by the death of Aloyse Meyer. For some 30 years he had been of great service to the company, never hesitating to put in the balance the considerable power bestowed upon him by his privileged position on the international economic stage. His wife, eldest daughter of Joseph Heintz, succeeded him as head of the board of directors, thereby restating the family’s constant striving for continuity. In the same year, Gustave Koener retired, leaving management in the hands of Robert Meyer, supported by Théo Jung, head of production and manager with power of attorney, who had made his debut with the company in 1911…He would remain there for 46 years!
HvL celebrated the 110th anniversary of its foundation. The Place d’Armes of 1847 was reconstituted around the Vielle Garde, reconstructed in the park of Hollerich since the beginning of the century. The years to come heralded great promise, unlike ten years earlier, in 1947, when the uncertainty of the postwar years led to the centenary celebration being quietly ‘forgotten’. And Paul Weber, director of the Luxembourgish chamber of commerce, could write in the introduction of the brochure published for the occasion: “The tobacco industry is one of the few to rise from the cemetery where most of the great products lie buried, which, over the last hundred years, carried the renown of Luxembourg across the world.”
The production of the ‘Lexington’ brand reached a record level of 2.7 billion units out of a total of 3.3 billion cigarettes manufactured by HvL. After the pinnacle, the fall is brutal: in 1962, ‘Lexington’ sales fell to 1.7 billion cigarettes in response to negative publicity published in the framework of the nascent anti-smoking campaign. Happily, the end of the ’50s was also a time when the big cigarette manufacturers from overseas were intensifying their efforts in the markets of the old continent in the hope of saving their brands, despite being well introduced into Europe by the GIs, from production costs in the United States that risked becoming prohibitive. For HvL, this was the beginning of the ‘Lorillard’ era, which had come to relieve the glorious era of the ‘Lexington’. The ‘Kent’ cigarette, produced under licence since 1958, began its innings.
The goal of the P. Lorillard company, constituted on November 6th, 1963, with registered offices in Ettelbruck, was the commercialization and joint-venture production between the American manufacturer and HvL of the ‘Kent’ brand, and, in a second stage, of ‘Newport’ cigarettes, to cater for the market for mentholated cigarettes. The director of the new company was J.-P. Thill. A new factory was built in Ettelbruck on grounds recently acquired and land belonging to the Fixmer subsidiary, whose plans for extension were abandoned in favour of Lorillard. The plant, one of the most modern in Europe, was inaugurated in April, 1964, and began production with an initial staff of 25, rising to 70 by 1968. 95% of the production was destined for export, specifically to the Benelux, France and Italy.
HvL launched ‘Maryland Filters’ in Luxembourg, to capitalize on the worldwide trend for filtered cigarettes. They would overtake non-filtered ‘Marylands’ in 1970. The price war progressively pushed the market towards packets of 25 cigarettes and the king-size version. HvL followed the movement and introduced the ‘Ducal’ in 1969, to immediate success. From then on, the packet of 25 cigarettes became the norm on the market.
This year marked the end of production of Fixmer tobaccos in Ettelbruck, whose products were thereafter manufactured at the plant in Hollerich and, later, in Trier. The old factory in the centre of Ettelbruck ceded place to a shopping centre.
After a free fall starting in 1965, HvL in Luxembourg registered very low production figures, barely passing the 1 billion cigarettes per year mark, compared to the 3.3 billion in its record year of 1961, whereas the Lorillard plant in Ettelbruck continued to grow, achieving 1.1 billion in 1971. The production of ‘Lexington’, in Hollerich, was falling by 300 million units per year. Seeing the end of the glorious era of that brand approaching, HvL reacted by turning to the German market, until then the protected territory of other producers. That market increasingly aroused covetousness following the spectacular collapse of the Dutch market. The barriers fell with the progressive implementation of the Common Market and HvL, present in Germany since 1925 with its subsidiary in Trier, intended to reinforce its position starting with Luxembourg and, to that end, consented to an association with the powerful Brinkmann firm of Bremen. The entry of Brinkmann into the capital of the Heintz van Landewyck company was an important event. Their 25.01% participation share marked the arrival of the first and only outsider to ‘penetrate’ the family hegemony, jealously maintained since the creation of HvL. It also marked a decisive step in the company’s progress towards internationalization. The parent company’s statutes were amended and an advisory board formed.
HvL succeeded in concluding an important manufacturing deal with a Dutch producer of worldwide scope. As a result, the global production figures rose by 30%.
The company celebrated its 125th anniversary. Marcel Mart, then minister of the national economy, said in his speech: “In 1900, there were in the Grand Duchy 5 companies producing 25 million cigarettes and 2 manufacturers making 10 million cigars. This work, still done largely by hand, required some 400 workers, the majority of whom were women. Today, the annual production of the Heintz van Landewyck and Lorillard companies is over 2.5 billion cigarettes and the number of personnel has fallen to less than 300 workers, of which one quarter are employees. The activity of the Heintz van Landewyck company has been exemplary from the point of view of technical and commercial management, and especially during the postwar period, where Mr. Robert Meyer, grandson of the founder Joseph Heintz, took on the responsibility of directorship, the company adapted marvellously to the exigencies of profound change.” 1972 was also the beginning of the ‘German border’ phenomenon, that’s to say the expansion of the adjacent fringe across the Mosel where HvL’s products and the cigarettes of other producers benefited from pricing advantages as a result of the increase of excise duty in the Federal Republic.
The ‘Kent’ brand, having introduced in the United States the era of the highly filtered cigarette, low in nicotine and tar, continued its success in Europe, particularly in the Benelux. To meet the demand, it was decided in 1972 to extend the plant in Ettelbruck. Construction began in 1973 and the new installations were put into commission on October 17th, 1974. The staff in Ettelbruck, ten years after the creation of the plant, now numbered over one hundred people; production jumped to 1.5 billion cigarettes per year. Because of the new installations, the manufacture of ‘micronite’ filters, hitherto imported from the United States, could now be carried out in Ettelbruck, beginning in 1975. In that year, 24 million ‘filter-rods’ were produced in Ettelbruck. In 1992, production approached one billion units.
Fixmer, in Ettelbruck, having accepted during the course of the year to concentrate exclusively on acting as tobacco wholesale dealer for all the products sold in Luxembourg, including, therefore, the competition’s products, the business was partially uprooted, in 1978, to a newly constructed large warehouse in Strassen. It was the beginning of a dynamic extension into the wholesale trade, in line with the policy of diversification.
The ‘Kent’ cigarette brand having begun to really take flight, the American partner sold its brand to the British giant, BAT (British American Tobacco), and HvL regained its portion of the ‘Kent’ factory. That was the end of the P. Lorillard company, closed down on June 30th of that year. On July 1st, HvL regained the totality of the factory in Ettelbruck, including the stocks, the equipment and the personnel. On the same date, a 10-year licensing agreement was signed between BAT and HvL for the production and marketing of ‘Kent’ cigarettes. Production could go on and HvL Ettelbruck continued its specialization in ‘crush-proof’ (CP) packaging, replacing the ‘soft pack’. HvL’s first CP packaging machine dated from 1964. That same year, Robert Meyer stepped down from his role as director of HvL after 44 years of invaluable service to the firm. He remained, however, as president of the board. Josy Schaack, director of the Trier subsidiary, then took over the directorship of the parent company, this personal union reinforcing the cohesion of the two entities. Josy Schaack was, after Gustave Koener in 1931, only the second person who was not a member of ‘the family’ to accede to the sole directorship of the company.
The ‘Ducal’ brand having the wind in its sails and having become HvL’s leading product, the management announced in a message to its employees in 1980: “Today, Heintz van Landewyck produces 3.5 billion cigarettes per year, sold mainly in the Benelux but also in all the other countries of the Common Market. Its major brands are currently Ducal, Kent, Maryland and Lexington.
The group consists of three factories: the factory in Hollerich, which employs roughly 250 people, the factory in Ettelbruck, which employs some 100 people and the factory in Trier with a staff of around 150 people; a total, therefore, of 500 people.”
In the same address, the management did not omit to bring to their attention a problem that, though already serious, would become accentuated in the years to come: “…Heintz van Landewyck, a medium-sized industry in the Grand Duchy, is only a small industry at the European level. We therefore have to defend ourselves against the giants…”
For a family business, and anxious to remain so, this was a major challenge.
November of that year saw the construction, in Ettelbruck, of the first ‘made by HvL’ packaging machine. This event figures in the history of the company because it marked a first, though humble, step on the path of diversification. It led, in 1991, to the creation of an ‘Engineering’ department, and in 1996 to the founding, also in Ettelbruck, of the ‘Imatec’ company, specialized in the manufacture of parts and in the servicing of machines.
The Trier factory stopped its production of cigarettes, all of which was thereafter concentrated on Luxembourg-Hollerich. The production of tobacco, on the other hand, was carried out entirely at the Trier site, and had been since ten years before. July 1st, 1982, was a significant date in the history of HvL products. The dramatic increase in the price of cigarettes in Germany, a result of heavier taxation to fill the State coffers, led to the large German distribution chains introducing ‘more economic’ cigarettes and the creation of in-house brands – the famous ‘Handelsmarken’ or generic brands, of which HvL managed to win for itself an important share of the production. The success was huge: in 1983 the production of the Hollerich and Ettelbruck factories together reached 4.6 billion cigarettes, compared with barely 3 billion two years earlier. More than 1 billion ‘generic’ cigarettes were delivered over the last six months of the year, in packets of 20. 1984 Management announced to its personnel: “Since November, 1980, we have employed more than one hundred people…”. In conjunction, the capacity of the cigarette machines was increased from 3.000 to 5.000 units per minute. ‘Ducal’ was introduced into the French market. Above all, HvL gained a significant hold in Germany with this brand, thanks to the launch of the 24-cigarette pack, sold in automatic vending machines (other manufacturers had packs of 22).
Fixmer Ettelbruck, a wholesale distributor since 1977, merged with Comptoir des Tabacs, of Strassen, trading under the name ‘Fixmer-CdT’.
HvL became owner of the ‘First’ brand. The very first delivery was made to China, also in 1987 – an excellent year for international business.
The tobacco preparation machines could no longer cope with the volume of production and a new installation was built in Luxembourg, supplying the two cigarette factories in the Grand Duchy, Ettelbruck and Hollerich. From 1994, this installation also supplied cut tobacco to the factory in Trier.
The forward march of production continued: from 4.4 billion cigarettes in 1984, it increased to 5.3 billion in 1992 and the 6 billion mark was in sight. The term ‘group’, in use since 1990, gained currency among the 583 members of the global staff at that time. Meanwhile, exportation further afield, beyond the markets of the Benelux, Germany and the Common Market generally, had become the ‘third leg’ of HvL. The ‘Bentley’ brand was firmly entrenched in south-east Asia, the ‘Ducal’ was progressing well in western Africa and the collapse of the communist régimes in eastern Europe opened up promising prospects. Participation in a factory in Hungary was planned to serve as a launchpad for Russia, long reputed for its cigarette market, which counted among the largest in the world. Also that year, a new product appeared on the German market: the ‘rolls’, not related in any way to the prestigious car make, but cigarettes made from cut tobacco, taxed lower and therefore cheaper. HvL began manufacture of ‘Lexington’ rolls. The introduction of this new product underscored the battle that cigarette manufacturers had been waging for years on an international level against heavy taxation of their product. The governments, for their part, continued to make opposition against these cheaper cigarettes that were denying them the takings they so badly needed.
The alliance with the Hungarian partner became a reality. On October 1st, 1993, HvL took a majority share in ‘Rona’. At the same time, Fixmer-CdT in Strassen evolved, in 1994, into Fixmer s.à.r.l., with a view to broadening the scope of its activities to other sectors of the wholesale trade. In the local market, more and more competitors were now offering packets containing 25 cigarettes, which severely undercut the sales of ‘Ducal’, having lost its pricing advantage. From 5.5 billion in 1992, HvL’s total production of cigarettes fell to 4.8 billion in 1993. 1994 Hereinafter, the notion of ‘group’ solidified, with the parent company Heintz van Landewyck in Luxembourg-Hollerich and Fixmer in Luxembourg-Strassen in the Grand Duchy, Heintz van Landewyck in Trier, Germany, and Rona in Debrecen, Hungary. The financial results of the subsidiary and associate companies began to show their effects on the consolidated accounts of the group.
The Hungarian enterprise, ‘Rona’, implemented a sales and marketing infrastructure in Budapest.
HvL Trier, after being constituted as a limited liability company on January 1st, 1995, uprooted its activities to move into a new factory built in 1995 in the south-west periphery of the town. The Trier factory, specializing in the production of smoking tobacco, to this day supplies some 100 tonnes of product per month to the German market. The manufacture of tobacco is accompanied by intense activity in the marketing of cigarettes, notably ‘Ducal’, sales of which approach one billion units per year in the German market. The year 1996 also saw the birth, in Ettelbruck, of another new company: ‘Imatec’ – Innovative Machine Technology, stemming from the ‘Engineering’ department created in 1981. With a staff of 17, it is active in the servicing, transformation and building of production machinery. An important part in the HvL group’s concept of diversification, the company progressively sought to extend into markets outside the parent group’s periphery. Also in the realm of diversification, Fixmer s.à.r.l. in Luxembourg-Strassen today markets some 8.000 items – tobacco and other goods – in petrol stations; the distribution is taking on new directions and is growing. As concerns business capital, the year was marked by an important restructuring of the family shareholding, resulting in a reduction of the number of referenced shareholders without affecting the structure of the whole. In 1996, production of cigarettes by the HvL group reached a record number of 5.7 billion units. 13% of them were sold in the local market (19% in 1986) and 62% in the markets of the other Member states of the European Union (ten years earlier it was 80%). In contrast, the percentage of sales in the more distant export markets grew from 1% to 25% in the same period. This progression illustrates the strong internationalization of Heintz van Landewyck over the course of the past twenty years.
Today, HvL works with some 30 partners throughout the world.
During its 150-year voyage, from ‘Old Heintz’ to the present day, the family’s cohesion has enabled the HvL ship to weather tempests and traverse calm seas, never steering off course. It’s greatest merit, perhaps, is having never overestimated its own importance and having understood that only an intelligent ‘niche-market’ policy could assure its success, today as well as in the future.
To manufacture and sell 7.7 billion cigarettes per year may seem like a dream for a family-run business that, though opening itself up to the world, it’s true, remains firmly rooted in such a tiny country. The dream is not so far-fetched in the large village that our world has become, where, no doubt, 5.500 billion cigarettes per year will continue to be produced between now and the year 2000.
A one-thousandth share of this volume is enormous for HvL, though contemptibly small for the key players in the industry.
It should never be forgotten.