Exploring acquisitions, says ITC chairman Puri

‘Hotel unit to track asset-right strategy’

ITC Ltd. is ‘proactively’ exploring inorganic opportunities as part of its vision for the next horizon, chairman Sanjiv Puri told shareholders on Wednesday.

He was addressing the company’s 110th Annual General Meeting online.

“This was manifest in the earlier acquisition of Savlon and Nimyle brands, and more recently of Sunrise Foods,” he said, adding the company would “continue to evaluate such value-accretive, inorganic opportunities as an additional pillar of growth.”

He said the company’s FMCG portfolio had been revitalised to make it future-ready, address emerging trends and develop categories of the future.

“Business segments that were incongruent to our growth aspirations, such as the Lifestyle Retailing Business, have been shrunk. Whilst the existing growth platforms comprising megabrands will be scaled up and fortified, new platforms, whether developed or acquired, will be nurtured to power growth across time horizons,” Mr. Puri said.

To empower small farmers, he said the company’s agri unit would unveil a ‘Super App’ during the year, called ITC-MAARS or Metamarket for Advanced Agriculture and Rural Services.

“ITC-MAARS will lend new wings to ITC e-Choupal and create a robust ‘phygital‘ ecosystem to deliver seamless customised solutions to farmers, anchored by FPOs, whilst creating new revenue streams, strengthening sourcing efficiencies and powering the company’s world-class Indian brands,” he said.

ITC-MAARS will offer a ‘full complement’ of agricultural solutions while its micro services structure will enable plug-ins for a range of agtech solutions. “This comprehensive suite encompasses hyperlocal services, AI [artificial intelligence-based personalised advisories, as well as online marketplaces,” he added.

For the hotels business, the company would pursue an ‘asset-right‘ strategy, he said, adding that a new boutique brand ‘The Storii’ was being introduced to offer the new-age traveller “curated nature experiences.”

In the medium term, the asset-right strategy is expected to double the number of properties and the company will continue to examine alternative structures in this segment, he said.

Overall, as a core strategy, ITC would continue to explore opportunities to “craft disruptive business models anchored at the intersection of digital and sustainability, leveraging its institutional strengths.” Mr Puri said the company’s digital transformation was being built on a foundation of an agile ‘Digital First’ culture.

“New frontiers are being explored across the entire value-chain ecosystem to add significant impetus to digital marketing, digital commerce, digital products and digital operations,” he said.

Stating that ITC fast-tracked its journey in e-commerce anticipating the surge in demand for ‘contactless shopping’ and home delivery, he said sales via e-commerce channels had more than doubled during the year.

He said despite near-term uncertainties, the Indian economy held ‘immense’ promise.

“The visionary Budget, which announced path-breaking reforms, enhanced capital expenditure and heightened spends on agriculture, will, over time, foster competitiveness and spur economic activity,” he said.

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