• It is both with a sense of pride and profound sadness that I write to you today at a very solemn moment in the Company’s history. A deep sense of honour, as I embark on a journey to lead this exemplary Company as its Chairman & MD, and yet at a time when we grieve the loss of a guiding light for the ITC family of stakeholders, our former Chairman Mr YC Deveshwar.
  • I have had the privilege of being associated with ITC for over 33 years across various Businesses and group companies. It has been an enriching experience to engage with and witness the evolution of the Company as it traversed many a trial and tribulation to emerge as a vibrant and valuable multibusiness conglomerate. Today, the mature businesses are leaders in their segments whilst the newer businesses are making appreciable progress. Given the emergent opportunities in a relatively fast growing economy like India, each of our businesses holds immense promise for the future.
  • ITC’s commitment to create value for India is also manifest in its investments in the development of world-class manufacturing and hospitality assets that contribute to the Company’s competitiveness, whilst enhancing the country’s long-term intellectual property. An investment outlay of Rs. 25,000 crore has been envisaged to support creation of several Integrated Consumer Goods Manufacturing & Logistics facilities for its FMCG businesses, in building iconic luxury hotels and in strengthening distribution and agri-backend.
  • ITC Hotels is one of India’s largest and fastest growing luxury hotel chains offering comprehensive hospitality solutions through more than 100 iconic hotels in over 70 destinations in the country. With ‘Responsible Luxury’ as its guiding premise, ITC’s luxury hotels combine grandeur with intimacy to operate according to the highest principles of environmental stewardship. This approach has made ITC Hotels a trailblazer in green hoteliering.
  • Some of the innovative first to market products launched by ITC include the Aashirvaad Sugar Release Control Atta – a low Glycaemic Index atta, Sunfeast Farmlite Active Protein Power biscuits made from roasted bengal gram, Farmland potatoes with Natural Antioxidants and the Farmland Naturally Low Sugar potatoes, pocket perfume range Engage On, among others.
  • Inherent in the concept of trusteeship is the responsibility to ensure equity, namely, that the rights of all shareholders, large or small, are protected.
  • Against the backdrop of a challenging operating environment as aforestated, your Company sustained its position as one of the fastest growing branded packaged foods businesses in the country, leveraging a robust portfolio of brands, a slew of first-to-market offers, a range of distinctive products customised to address regional tastes and preferences along with an efficient supply chain and distribution network. The Business implemented several initiatives encompassing cost management, supply chain optimisation, smart procurement, alternative fuel usage and productivity improvement through automation which helped in absorbing escalation in input costs, start-up costs of new facilities and strategic investments in brand building for new categories viz. Dairy, Juices, Chocolates and Coffee.
  • Your Company’s Personal Care Products Business delivered a healthy performance during the year and continued to enhance its market standing in the Hand Hygiene, Fragrance, Bodywash and Skin Care categories. This was driven by sustained focus on innovation, portfolio premiumisation, expansion of distribution reach and proactive cost management.
  • Mangaldeep enhanced its market standing by focusing on driving brand salience through sharply targeted media investments, on-ground consumer activations and a differentiated and superior product experience. Mix enrichment and cost optimisation initiatives continued to be the other key focus areas for the Business.
  • The unique and innovative Mangaldeep app, currently available in nine languages on both the Android & iOS platforms, caters to the everyday devotional needs of consumers. The content on the app covers information and steps to perform various pujas, popular devotional songs, panchang (Hindu calendar and almanac), chant counter and temple locator amongst others. The app has garnered over five lakh downloads and enjoys a healthy rating of 4.6/5, which is the highest in the devotional space amongst apps of comparable dimensions. Dwell-time per user has more than doubled over the previous year. The app is being continually improvised to expand the scope of devotional journey of consumers.
  • A punitive and discriminatory taxation and regulatory regime, together with sharp increase in illegal trade in recent years, continue to pose significant operating challenges to the legal cigarette industry in the country.

My view: ‘Dava, Nasha aur Jua’ is least affected even during recession. While the stock has given almost zero returns over the past 5 years, this is a stock to buy and pass to your next generation.

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