ITC Group History: Early Years, Companies Details & Future Outlook
The ITC Group is one of the largest conglomerates in India, with interests in multiple industries including tobacco, FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), hospitality, and paperboards. The group is headquartered in Kolkata. The group has a pan-India presence and operations in over 60 countries.
In this article, we will glance at the history of the ITC Group, its growth, its evolution over the years, and the various ITC Group companies that comprise this corporation.
The Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited was established in Kolkata in 1910 with the aim of manufacturing and selling cigarettes and tobacco products. It was one of the few Indian-owned companies in the industry at the time, as the tobacco industry in India was largely made up of foreign counterparts.
In the years that followed, the company expanded its operations. By the 1930s, it became a big force in the Indian tobacco industry. The company began exporting its products to other countries. By the 1950s, it was one of the largest exporters of tobacco in the world.
In the 1960s, the Indian government began to impose restrictions on the tobacco industry. This prompted the Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited to diversify into other businesses. In 1975, the company was rebranded as ITC Limited, to reflect its diversification into non-tobacco businesses such as hotels and paperboards.
Diversification and Expansion
In the 1970s, the Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited, which later became ITC Limited, diversified into other industries. This was in response to the changing regulatory environment in India, which imposed restrictions on the tobacco industry. The company found an opportunity to leverage their expertise in branding and distribution, to expand into other businesses.
Hotels were one of the first businesses that ITC Limited entered into. In 1975, the company acquired a 14.73% stake in the Oberoi Group of Hotels, and this marked the beginning of their foray in the hospitality industry. Over the next few years, ITC Limited acquired additional stakes in the Oberoi Group. In 1979, they launched their hotel brand, ITC Hotels. Presently, with properties across the country, ITC Hotels are among the leading luxury hotel chains in India
In the 1980s, ITC Limited further diversified into other industries such as paperboards and packaging. The company set up its first paperboard mill in Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh in 1979. This was followed by the establishment of additional mills in other parts of the country. Presently, ITC Limited's Paperboards and Specialty Papers Division is one of the largest producers of paperboards in India, with a product range that includes specialty papers, printing papers, writing papers, and packaging solutions.
In the 1990s, ITC Limited entered the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector with the launch of its packaged foods business. The company set up a state-of-the-art food processing plant in Bengaluru and launched their flagship brand, Aashirvaad Atta, in 2002. Presently, ITC Foods is among the leading players in the packaged foods market in India, with a product range that includes snacks, confectionery, biscuits, and ready-to-eat meals.
ITC Limited further diversified into other industries including agri-business with ITC Agro, which deals in procurement, processing, and export of agricultural commodities. They became part of the IT sector with ITC Infotech, providing software development, maintenance, and consulting services.
Presently, the ITC Group has a pan-India presence and also operates in over 60 countries. Their business spans multiple industries such as FMCG, hotels, paperboards, packaging, agri-business, and IT services. The diversification into non-tobacco businesses has not only helped the ITC Group mitigate risks associated with the tobacco industry, but has also allowed for them to explore new growth opportunities.
ITC Group Companies
Here are some of the major ITC Group companies that form a part of the ITC Group:
- ITC Limited: This is the flagship company of the ITC Group. It is engaged with businesses such as FMCG, hotels, paperboards, and packaging.
- ITC Infotech: This is the IT services subsidiary of the ITC Group. They provide software development, maintenance, and consulting services to clients across multiple industries.
- ITC Foods: This is the food processing and packaged foods business of the ITC Group. They offer a wide range of products including snacks, confectionery, biscuits, and ready-to-eat meals.
- ITC Agro: This is the agri-business division of the ITC Group involved in the procurement, processing, and export of agricultural commodities such as wheat, rice, and soybean.
- ITC Paperboards and Specialty Papers Division: This is the paper and packaging business of the ITC Group. They offer a range of products including specialty papers, printing and writing papers, and packaging solutions.
- ITC Hotels: This is the hospitality arm of the ITC Group, operating a chain of luxury hotels and resorts in India and abroad.
- ITC Limited: Imperial Tobacco Division - this is the tobacco business of the ITC Group, engaged in the manufacturing and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility
ITC has always prioritised sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in its business practices.
The company's Social and Farm Forestry Programme is one of its key initiatives, focusing on afforestation and sustainable forest management. The programme has created green cover over millions of hectares of degraded land and provided livelihood opportunities for local communities.
The company has also launched several other initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint, including investing in renewable energy and water conservation projects. ITC's e-Choupal initiative empowers farmers by providing them with access to information, markets, and services through technology.
ITC's CSR efforts extend beyond environmental sustainability, with programmes focusing on healthcare, education, and women's empowerment. The company has established several hospitals and schools, and its Women's Empowerment Programme provides training and employment opportunities for women.
ITC's commitment to sustainability and CSR has made it a respected business entity. Its initiatives make a positive impact on the environment and society.
ITC's future outlook looks bright, with the company continuing to focus on its core businesses while exploring new growth opportunities. The company has set a target to achieve a turnover of $100 billion by the year 2030, which will potentially make it one of the largest conglomerates in the world.
ITC has also focused on expanding its presence in the digital space, by launching new initiatives such as the ITC eStore and the ITC Engage App. These initiatives aim to give customers a seamless and convenient shopping experience, while also promoting the company's brands.
The ITC Group of Companies has come a long way since its inception as a tobacco company in the year 1910. Over the years, the company diversified into multiple industries. Presently the ITC Group of Companies is one of the largest conglomerates in India. With their focus on innovation, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility, the ITC Group is well-positioned to continue their growth and expansion for the years to come.
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