Established in 1910, ITC Limited is a diversified conglomerate with businesses spanning Fast Moving Consumer Goods comprising Foods, Personal Care, Cigarettes and Cigars, Education & Stationery Products, Incense Sticks and Safety Matches; Hotels, Paperboards and Packaging, Agri Business and Information Technology. The Company was incorporated on August 24, 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 ITC's multi-business portfolio encompassing a wide range of businesses, the full stops in the Company's name were removed effective September 18, 2001. The Company now stands rechristened 'ITC Limited,' where 'ITC' is today no longer an acronym or an initialised form.
The Company's beginnings were humble. A leased office on Radha Bazar Lane, Kolkata, was the centre of the Company's existence. The Company celebrated its 16th birthday on August 24, 1926, by purchasing the plot of land situated at 37, Chowringhee, (now renamed J.L. Nehru Road) Kolkata, for the sum of Rs 310,000. This decision of the Company was historic in more ways than one. It was to mark the beginning of a long and eventful journey into India's future. The Company's headquarter building, 'Virginia House', which came up on that plot of land two years later, would go on to become one of Kolkata's most venerated landmarks.
Though the first six decades of the Company's existence were primarily devoted to the growth and consolidation of the Cigarettes and Leaf Tobacco businesses, ITC's Packaging & Printing Business was set up in 1925 as a strategic backward integration for ITC's Cigarettes business. It is today India's most sophisticated packaging house.
The Seventies witnessed the beginnings of a corporate transformation that would usher in momentous changes in the life of the Company. In 1975, the Company launched its Hotels business with the acquisition of a hotel in Chennai which was rechristened 'ITC-Welcomgroup Hotel Chola' (now renamed Welcomhotel by ITC Hotels, Cathedral Road, Chennai). The objective of ITC's entry into the hotels business was rooted in the concept of creating value for the nation. ITC chose the Hotels business for its potential to earn high levels of foreign exchange, create tourism infrastructure and generate large scale direct and indirect employment. Since then ITC's Hotels business has grown to occupy a position of leadership, with over 113 owned and managed properties spread across India under four brands namely, ITC Hotels, Welcomhotel, Fortune Hotels and WelcomHeritage.
ITC Hotels recently took its first step toward international expansion with an upcoming super premium luxury hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
In 1979, ITC entered the Paperboards business by promoting ITC Bhadrachalam Paperboards Limited. Bhadrachalam Paperboards amalgamated with the Company effective March 13, 2002 and became a Division of the Company, Bhadrachalam Paperboards Division. In November 2002, this division merged with the Company's Tribeni Tissues Division to form the Paperboards & Specialty Papers Division. ITC's paperboards' technology, productivity, quality and manufacturing processes are comparable to the best in the world. It has also made an immense contribution to the development of Sarapaka, an economically backward area in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is directly involved in education, environmental protection and community development. In 2004, ITC acquired the paperboard manufacturing facility of BILT Industrial Packaging Co. Ltd (BIPCO), near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. The Kovai Unit allows ITC to improve customer service with reduced lead time and a wider product range.
In 1985, ITC set up Surya Tobacco Co. in Nepal as an Indo-Nepal and British joint venture. In August 2002, Surya Tobacco became a subsidiary of ITC Limited and its name was changed to Surya Nepal Private Limited (Surya Nepal). In 2004, the company diversified into manufacturing and exports of garments.
In 1990, ITC acquired Tribeni Tissues Limited, a Specialty paper manufacturing company and a major supplier of tissue paper to the cigarette industry. The merged entity was named the Tribeni Tissues Division (TTD). To harness strategic and operational synergies, TTD was merged with the Bhadrachalam Paperboards Division to form the Paperboards & Specialty Papers Division in November 2002.
Also in 1990, leveraging its agri-sourcing competency, ITC set up the Agri Business Division for export of agri-commodities. The Division is today one of India's largest exporters. ITC's unique and now widely acknowledged e-Choupal initiative began in 2000 with soya farmers in Madhya Pradesh. Now it extends to 10 states covering over 4 million farmers. Also, through the 'Choupal Pradarshan Khet' initiative, the agri services vertical has been focusing on improving productivity of crops while deepening the relationship with the farming community.
ITC launched line of premium range of notebooks under brand Paperkraft in 2002. To augment its offering and to reach a wider student population, the Classmate range of notebooks was launched in 2003. Classmate over the years has grown to become India's largest notebook brand and has also increased its portfolio to occupy a greater share of the school bag. Years 2007- 2009 saw the launch of Practical Books, Drawing Books, Geometry Boxes, Pens and Pencils under the 'Classmate' brand. 'Paperkraft' offers a diverse portfolio in the premium executive stationery and office consumables segment.
In 2000, ITC spun off its information technology business into a wholly owned subsidiary, ITC Infotech India Limited, to more aggressively pursue emerging opportunities in this area. Today ITC Infotech is one of India's fastest growing global IT and IT-enabled services companies and has established itself as a key player in offshore outsourcing, providing outsourced IT solutions and services to leading global customers across key focus verticals - Banking Financial Services & Insurance (BFSI), Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Retail, Manufacturing, Engineering Services, Media & Entertainment, Travel, Hospitality, Life Sciences and Transportation & Logistics.
ITC's foray into the Foods business is an outstanding example of successfully blending multiple internal competencies to create a new driver of business growth. It began in August 2001 with the introduction of 'Kitchens of India' ready-to-eat Indian gourmet dishes. In 2002, ITC entered the confectionery and staples segments with the launch of the brands mint-o and Candyman confectionery and Aashirvaad Atta (wheat flour). 2003 witnessed the introduction of Sunfeast as the Company entered the biscuits segment. ITC entered the fast growing branded snacks category with Bingo! in 2007. In 2010, ITC launched Sunfeast Yippee! to enter the Indian instant noodles market. In September 2014, ITC launched GumOn Chewing Gum marking the entry into the category of gums. The Company entered the Fruit-based juices and beverages market with the launch of B Natural Fruit beverages in January 2015. ITC's forayed into the dairy segment with the launch of Aashirvaad Svasti Ghee in November 2015. Launched in April 2016, Fabelle chocolates are ITC's premier offering in the luxury chocolate space. ITC forayed into the branded coffee category in July 2016 with the launch of Sunbean Gourmet Coffee. In February 2017, ITC launched ITC MasterChef super safe spices - the first-of-its-kind spices launched in India, offering export quality super safe spices to the Indian homemaker. ITC MasterChef Prawns were launched in June 2017 as the Company entered the Frozen foods segment. ITC's first foray into fresh fruits and vegetables segment was marked with the launch of Farmland Potatoes in November 2017. In 2018, ITC forayed into the packaged milk segment with the launch of Aashirvaad Svasti pouch milk and into dairy-based beverages with the Sunfeast Wonderz range of milkshakes. The ITC Master Chef Frozen Snacks range was also introduced the same year, marking the Company's first venture into the frozen snacks segment. In July 2020, ITC acquired spices maker Sunrise Foods, looking to augment its product portfolio.
In just over a decade and a half, the Foods business has grown to a significant size under numerous distinctive brands, with an enviable distribution reach, a rapidly growing market share and a solid market standing.
In 2002, ITC's philosophy of contributing to enhancing the competitiveness of the entire value chain found yet another expression in the Safety Matches initiative. ITC now markets popular safety matches brands like iKno, Mangaldeep and Aim.
ITC's foray into the marketing of Agarbattis (incense sticks) in 2003 marked the manifestation of its partnership with the cottage sector. Mangaldeep is a highly established national brand and is available across a range of fragrances like Rose, Jasmine, Bouquet, Sandalwood and 'Fragrance of Temple'.
ITC entered the Personal Care Business in 2005 and the portfolio has grown under 'Essenza Di Wills', 'Fiama', 'Vivel' 'Superia' brands which have received encouraging consumer response and have been progressively extended nationally. In May 2013, the business expanded its product portfolio with the launch of Engage deodorants. ITC marked its foray into the health space with the acquisition of the brand Savlon and Shower to Shower in 2015. In 2017, the business acquired the brand Charmis to enhance its skincare portfolio. In 2018, ITC acquired the brand Nimyle to enter the floor cleaner space. In 2018, the business also launched the Dermafique brand, foraying into the premium skincare product territory. In 2020, the Personal Care Product Business launched multiple personal and home hygiene products and entered the fruit and vegetable wash category with the launch of brand Nimwash. In 2021, dishwash gel Nimeasy was launched.
In 2010, ITC launched its handrolled cigar, Armenteros, in the Indian market. Armenteros cigars are available exclusively at tobacco selling outlets in select hotels, fine dining restaurants and exclusive clubs.