SETTING THE WORLD ALIGHT

As the head of Hunters & Frankau, the exclusive U.K. distributor of Cuban cigars, Jemma Freeman occupies a rarefied position. She talks to The Rake about her influences and what she’s learned.

There are rumours that when Jemma Freeman arrives in Havana, she is greeted by some kind of People’s Fanfare. The court of St. James’s has assigned an ambassador to Cuba, but even he knows he is but a non-exec compared to the plenipotentiary Chairman of Hunters & Frankau. Freeman is — and it is extraordinary when you think about it — the only woman in the world in her position, which was made perversely clear when she won the 2013 Habanos Man of the Year award. She is responsible for the importation of every single Cuban cigar into the United Kingdom and Gibraltar. Across the world, the Cuban government assigns monopolies to companies in different territories, charging them with the distribution of their most prized and combustible export. For a product that is ripe for forgery, in a similar vein to wine, the importers provide a guarantee of quality and trustworthiness. In fact, Jemma is considered by many to have provided the template by which her peers should conduct themselves.

Published

February 2022

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