In the early autumn of 1910, sitting in the narrow confines of his modest office in Calcutta, it would have been impossible for the lone distributor of a Tobacco company to even imagine what history would have in store for the company he represented.
History And evolution
ITC was incorporated on August 24th, 1910, under the name Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited. As the Company’s ownership progressively Indianised, the name of the Company was changed to India Tobacco Company Limited in 1970 and then to I.T.C. Limited in 1974.
In recognition of the Company’s multi-business portfolio encompassing a wide range of businesses – Fast Moving Consumer Goods comprising Foods, Personal Care, Cigarettes and Cigars, Branded Apparel, Education and Stationery Products, Incense Sticks and Safety Matches, Hotels, Paperboards & Specialty Papers, Packaging, Agri-Business and Information Technology
The Company now stands rechristened ITC Limited.
ITC’s journey, over a century, has indeed been one of extraordinary transformation – from a small outpost of an overseas-owned company with a single product to one of India’s most valuable and admired multi-dimensional and multi-business enterprises. Only a handful of enterprises in the world have traversed a 100-year journey and managed to remain contemporary, relevant and competitive.
ITC is one such enterprise. In the last four decades, ITC’s topline grew from Rs 145 crore in 1970 to over Rs 48,000 crore (Rs 480 billion) in 2014, profit after tax soared from Rs 4 crore (Rs 40 million) to cross Rs 8,700 crore (Rs 87 billion) and market capitalization catapulted from around Rs 35 crore (Rs 350 million) to more than Rs 2,75,000 crore (Rs 2,750 billion).
Super-Fast Growth, Across Business Portfolios
From being a one-product category, ITC’s portfolio now spans 20 categories with over 1,500 products. Today, a network of 100 factories churn out ITC’s products, compared to just six units set up in the first 50 odd years. It is indeed a matter of pride that ITC today has a meaningful presence in all the three sectors -Agriculture, Services and Manufacturing.
Cigarettes: Cigarettes business needs an honorable mention of all the others because of its sheer size and profit it generates for the group. ITC Ltd sells 81% of the cigarettes Bidi in Asia, where 275 million people use tobacco products and the total cigarette market is worth close to $11 billion
ITC’s major cigarette brands include Wills Navy Cut, Gold Flake Kings, Gold Flake Premium lights, Gold Flake Super Star, Insignia, India Kings, Classic, 555, Silk Cut, Scissors, Capstan, Berkeley, Bristol, Lucky Strike, Players, Flake, and Duke & Royal.
FMCG: ITC’s major food brands include Kitchens of India; Aashirvaad, B natural, Sunfeast, Candyman, Bingo! and Yippee!. ITC is India’s largest seller of branded foods with of over Rs. 4,600 crores in 2012-13. It is present across 6 categories in the food business including, snack foods, ready-to-eat meals, fruit juices, dairy products, and confectionery. Personal care products include perfumes, haircare, and skincare categories. Major brands are Fiama Di Wills, Vivel, Savlon Soap & Handwash, Essenza Di Wills, Superia and Engage.
Hotel Business: ITC Hotels has a reputation of playing host to visiting royalty and world leaders time and again. ITC’s Hotels division (under brands including WelcomHotel) is India’s second-largest hotel chain with over 100 hotels throughout India. ITC is also the exclusive franchise in India of two brands owned by Sheraton International Inc. Brands in the hospitality sector owned and operated by its subsidiaries include Fortune Park Hotels and WelcomHeritage Hotels. ITC Hotels is regularly voted amongst the best employers in Asia in the hospitality sector.
Agri-Business: ITC’s has positioned itself as one of India’s leading corporates in the agricultural sector. It is based on strong and enduring farmer partnerships that has revolutionized and transformed the rural agricultural sector. A unique rural digital infrastructure network, coupled with deep understanding of agricultural practices and intensive research, has built a competitive and efficient supply chain that creates and delivers immense value across the agricultural value chain. One of the largest exporters of agro products from the country, ITC sources the finest of Indian Feed Ingredients, Food Grains, Marine Products, Processed Fruits & Coffee. Its revolutionary e-Choupal has benefited over 4 million farmers.
Paperboard and Specialty Papers: Products such as specialty paper, graphics and other paper are sold under the ITC brand by the ITC Paperboards and Specialty Papers Division like Classmate product of ITC are well known for their quality. Along with it, Stationary Brands include Classmate, PaperKraft and Colour Crew. Launched in 2003, Classmate went on to become India’s largest notebook brand in 2007.
Information Technology: ITC operates through its fully owned subsidiary ITC Infotech India Limited. Today, it is one of the fastest growing mid-tier IT companies in India. ITC has also made significant investments in setting up the world-class ITC Life Sciences & Technology Centre in Bengaluru to create the “products of tomorrow”.
Driving force behind this transformational journey
It is the vision of the Management and skilled professionals who led ITC at different points of time in its history. the deep desire and ambition to develop and sustain ITC as an ‘institution’ – the organization’s core identity was its primary status as a societal instrument of change. Creating “national value” was as central to this vision as growing “shareholder value”.
Contribution to enhancing the productivity of the entire value chain and meeting stakeholder expectations was as critical to this vision as maximizing efficiency and improving returns on deployed resources.
This vision, which was a source of personal inspiration, for other companies, has not only survived over the last four decades but has evolved into a formidable motivator for the 31,000 employees of the ITC group.