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Nokia cellphones packed in ITC boxes
Economic Times - 10 Apr 2009

ITC Prime Supplier Of Packaging Material & Box Cartons For Phone Co

IT HAS remained a well kept secret for a while. ITC Ltd is now the principal supplier of value-added packaging material and box cartons for every Nokia cellphone that gets shipped to as many as 50 countries from the Finnish telecom giant’s Chennai factory. Nokia has silently inked a bulk purchase agreement with the $4.75-billion plus cigarettes-to-hotels conglomerate, wherein ITC is now the prime vendor of packaging material and customised microfluted cartons for all Nokia phones and accessories manufactured in Chennai. When contacted, both Nokia India and ITC confirmed the development. According to a Nokia India spokeswoman: “The decision to enter into a global purchase pact with ITC for packaging cellphones manufactured in Chennai is in step with Nokia’s global sourcing strategy, wherein the packaging material and box cartons are procured from a local supplier nearest to its handset manufacturing plant. We can’t share commercials but such international purchase agreements are reviewed periodically.”

As Nokia phones shipped from Chennai hit several global retail points in 50 countries, ITC has to manufacture boxes that meet the Finnish player’s stringent quality standards. “Since all sales boxes and the larger shipping cartons supplied by ITC will carry the Nokia brand and hit several of our international retail points, quality consistency is critical. The boxes will also need to have very high grade image graphics and texture,” said Mr Josh Foulger, who is Nokia’s national sourcing head for India.

Like ITC, Nokia has similar purchase agreements in place with other country-specific cellphone packaging suppliers in Finland, Hungary, Romania, China, Korea, Mexico and Brazil where it has similar handset manufacturing factories.

In this light, a senior ITC executive said: “ITC has improved its own quality systems to deliver value to an international customer of repute such as Nokia in the Sriperumbudur SEZ near Chennai.” In fact, ITC has a large unit in Chennai where it manufactures packaging solutions for leading tobacco, electronics, food & beverage and personal care products.

Ever since Nokia started churning out 'Made in India’ cellphones from its Chennai facility in March 2006, it has manufactured well over 200 million mobiles to meet the requirements of India and other export markets encompassing Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia. While company officials declined to share handset numbers, Nokia, it is learnt, rolls out over 100 million mobiles a year from Chennai.

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