Diversified ITC expects its stationery business to get back to double digit growth from December after dropping to single digit in the last six months due to economic slowdown and floods affecting sales, according to a senior company official.
The company, which sells stationery primarily through its Rs 1,500-crore Classmate brand, is focussing on innovation of new products to push sales and tide over the current slowdown and overcome challenges during the off-season period from July to October.
"The segment is not insulated from economic slowdown. There is primarily downtrading and postponement of purchases. In the last six months, in the context of the economy, we have grown in high single digit. It is not in double digits anymore," ITC Ltd Chief Executive, Education and Stationery Products Business Division, Shailendra Tyagi told PTI.
Usually, he said, "When school sessions starts, students buy in bulks. What we are seeing is postponement in such purchases now".
Also, when slowdown happens what gets hit is the rough notebooks which are used for tuitions or and other rough work, he said.
Tyagi said due to floods in many parts of the country, which had forced closure of schools, sales were impacted as well but once the situation gets normal and schools reopen, sales will pick up.
Expressing optimism of getting back to double digit growth, he said, "In the last six months, growth had come down for various reasons but by December we should go back to double digits. The season for stationery starts from December (with the beginning of school sessions in different states). We are anticipating we should be able to grow back to double digits".
He said ITC is also focusing on product innovations to drive the growth.
"When the industry is growing, you grow anyway. If we have accelerate further we have to take the route of product innovation so that what we bring to the table is differentiated," Tyagi said.
Recently, the company had launched its Classmate Pulse 3D Notebook, which provides "an immersive experience" through a 3-dimensional cover, enabled through a lenticular board.
It had also introduced Classmate Pulse interchangeable notebooks, offering students the option to repeatedly change covers of the notebook and have a different cover whenever desired.
The company had also brought the Classmate Pulse Selfie notebooks, allowing personalisation of notebooks with a selfie on the cover.