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ITC to focus beyond tobacco
The Asian Age - 02 Dec 2001

Bangalore, Dec. 1: ITC Ltd, the Kolkata-based cigarette major will focus beyond its core operations for expanding its business, following the recent order by the Supreme Court, restricting smoking in public places.

"We respect the court order and will follow the law of the land. ITC is not all about tobacco products. We have been into so many other areas such as manufacturing and hospitality services. We continue to look into other strategic areas to grow and expand," ITC chairman, Y.C. Deveshwar said.

Mr Deveshwar, however, said it was early to estimate the extent to which cigarette sales would be affected by the Apex court order. He added that the company had already diversified in many areas including hotels, lifestyle products, IT, greeting cards, paper boards among others.

"We are capitalising on the brand equity, which ITC commands in our lifestyle and IT business" he said. Stating that the e-Choupal, which ITC has established in rural India for networking with the world had taken off phenomenally, Mr Deveshwar said the company would invest in setting up more such choupals. Several companies including the Life Insurance Corporation is leveraging on the network of ITC’s e-Choupal to gain access to the rural market.

"We have a vision to make a positive difference for the rural part of our population. Our paper board business contributes significantly to the farmers cultivating the raw material," he said. Mr Deveshwar said the company was re-orienting its hotel business, following the slump in the tourist arrivals due to the after-effects of September 11 and the prevailing global economic slow-down.