To ramp up capacity, FMCG-to-hotels conglomerate ITC will be investing $2 billion in the medium term as part of its strategy reset. This would include investments for capacity building and fund new growth areas.
Addressing the media, chairman and managing director Sanjiv Puri said the investment will go into capacity gearing, into new technologies as the company looks at upgrading quality and bring in contemporary technology, among others.
The investments will also be focused on new growth areas that the company is eyeing as part of its sustainability 2.0 agenda as well where it is looking at single-use plastic substitutes.
To help improve farmer incomes, it will also go into the super app 'ITC MAARS' that the company plans to launch. ITC will also be scaling up food processing, investing into its FMCG business, and also set up a state-of-the-art spices facility.
Puri added that the investment will also be towards its packaging business as the company is setting up a packaging plant in Gujarat, and a nicotine derivatives plant in Mysuru that will look to export US and UK.
However, the $2 billion investment will be over and above the inorganic opportunities the company is eyeing, and so will not include the acquisitions the company is eyeing.
Puri said, while addressing the company’s annual general meeting (AGM), that the company is proactively pursuing inorganic opportunities for its non-cigarette FMCG business. These acquisitions, Puri said, will be in the 'future trends' that ITC is seeing in foods, personal care, health, wellness & hygiene segments.
"Some people are looking at smart solutions for the homes, health, wellness, hygiene, convenience foods. People are also looking for indulgence, so all these all these vectors are continuing to progress. I also spoke yesterday about how brands like Ashirvaad give us an opportunity to have a larger platform kind of play around staples," Puri added.
On the hotels business, ITC's executive director Nakul Anand said the company will be increasing focus on the Welcome Hotels brand, something that Puri alluded to at the AGM as well.
The company plans to take the count of Welcome Hotels from 12 (as of FY21-end) to 20 at the end of FY22. Anand said the company has singed 6-7 new properties already and five more are under negotiation. ITC aims to then take this number to 34-35 Welcome Hotels over a three to four year period. In terms of its new boutique hotel brand 'The Storii’, the company plans to add 4-5 new properties every year, starting next year.
In terms of overall business recovery, Puri said there is a clear sequential recovery across categories, be it staples or even discretionary categories. Health and hygiene categories, which spiked during the COVID-19 period, is settling at a lower level, but is still elevated as compared to a pre-COVID era, he added. However, he reiterated that possibilities of subsequent waves of COVID-19 bring about near-term uncertainties.