‘ITC will continue to enter newer areas’
ITC would continue to enter newer areas in non-cigarette FMCG business, Chairman Y. C. Deveshwar said, adding that the company had demonstrated that it was possible to have multiple growth drivers.
Elaborating on a point made earlier at the annual meeting, he said “We are looking at beverages and dairy business, among others.” Declining to elaborate further, he just said cryptically “Initially in the new areas we will go for the low-hanging fruits”.
He said that the company would put a larger thrust on these areas in the newer economic scenario in the country. Placing great emphasis on job creation, he said that ITC encouraged projects which entailed employment generation. “ITC is investing in IT (it has a subsidiary) but we are investing in an IT business to create jobs here. We don’t export our jobs,” he said.
For a developing country like India, a young demographic profile added 12 million to the job market annually but only two million jobs were added annually between 2005 and 2012, he said.
He said that ITC had on the anvil 65 projects involving a built-up area of over 28 milion sq. ft. with an outlay of over Rs.25,000 crore including Rs.3,500-crore investment in West Bengal where he felt policies were conducive. However, all the projects were delayed as execution was caught in the bottleneck of clearances. “ITC’s food business is now Rs.6,000 crore,” the chairman said.
On ITC’s hotels business, segment head Nakul Anand said that 3,000 rooms would be added in three to four years. “ITC now had eight hotels under construction and 15 on the drawing board,” he said. Mr. Deveshwar said that ITC’s hotel operations were the most profitable in an industry where most companies were doing badly.
On e-cigarettes, he said that the company was ‘ready’, but would await clarity on policies before entering the segment.