Business Today

From the editor

It was back in 2000 that ITC took its first small steps into apparel retail, launching its first Wills Lifestyle store in Delhi. A year later, the Kolkata headquartered conglomerate entered food retailing.

Sanjoy Narayan | Print Edition: Dec 02, 2007

fIt was back in 2000 that ITC took its first small steps into apparel retail, launching its first Wills Lifestyle store in Delhi. A year later, the Kolkataheadquartered conglomerate entered food retailing. This was followed by greeting cards and stationery products, and then, more recently, personal care products.

Today, non-tobacco businesses account for more than half of the company's net revenues of more than Rs 12,700 crore. And, as you would have seen from the cover of this issue, Chairman Y.C. Deveshwar wants to make ITC the #1 FMCG company in India. Already, there are several signs of that happening. In many categories among ITC's non-tobacco businesses, the company has quickly managed to ratchet up market shares, offering stiff competition to its often well-entrenched rivals. In some of them, as you will read in our cover story by Deputy Editor Arnab Mitra, it is already the market leader.

But rapid growth in market shares across its new product categories reveals only one aspect of ITC's nontobacco business strategy. At a time when big Indian companies are facing resistance to their plans in organised retailing, ITC has been able to leverage its grass-roots level e-choupal initiative to actually co-opt the middlemen and traders into its strategy. Launched in June 2000, the e-choupal network not only gives ITC unmatched reach into rural India, enabling it to source foodgrain and other commodities, but also allows it to distribute products in those markets. So effective has this network become that other companies-from tractor makers to fertiliser marketers-use it to reach their target markets. Our cover feature, for which Mitra spoke to Deveshwar and all his key chief executives, who run each of the conglomerate's businesses, is an inside story on how ITC is going about achieving the goal of becoming the biggest player in the new businesses it has entered. As the dollar continues to weaken, the woes of Indian exporters, particularly SMEs, have been well publicised. What has not, however, is the plight of millions of workers in the manufacturing sector, who have either lost their jobs or will soon do so as a result of drastic down-sizing and closing down of the businesses that employ them. In Manufacturing's Vanishing Jobs, Special Correspondent Rishi Joshi finds out how serious things have become and the impact it could have on the workforce in exporting sectors.

In 60 Minutes, Lloyd Craig Blankfein, Chairman & CEO of Goldman Sachs, gives us a candid interview on varied subjects, including the current subprime crisis and its effects, the culture at Wall Street's most revered bank and, of course, China and India.

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