The growth of tobacco business of ITC was good for its shareholders and there was no point of de-growing it for the benefit of the non-tobacco verticals, ITC chairman Y C Deveshwar on Friday said.
During the April-June quarter, ITC's revenue from cigarettes increased 6.42 per cent to Rs 8,230.60 crore from Rs 7,733.43 crore in the year-ago period. "Some shareholders are saying that growth of the tobacco business should be less while that of others (non-tobacco) should rise. That is not the objective", Deveshwar said at the company's AGM here.
Deveshwar, who will step down as executive chairman and preside over as non-executive chairman at the next AGM, said, "We are not competing within the company".
"The growth of the tobacco business will be good for the shareholders of the company," he said. The tobacco business was increasingly coming under prohibition by various government regulations but continued to be the prime revenue driver of the company.
ITC was in a unique position to explore new opportunities in the area of perishables including fruits and vegetables, he said in the chairman's speech.
In this regard, ITC was exploring the opportunity to invest in state-of-the-art cold chain top cover farm produce including fresh, frozen and dehydrated fruits and vegetables. Also, there are plans to cultivate medicinal and aromatic plants, he said. "The company's traditional, new and developing enterprises will help in achieving the Rs 1 lakh crore FMCG goal by 2030," he said.
When one of the shareholders pointed out that ITC was sitting on a huge pile of cash and bank balance, Deveshwar said, "We want to consume every penny, but the main problem is getting approvals. It takes a long time to get permission which is delaying our investment plans". Referring to Patanjali, he said, "I am proud that it has built an Indian brand...we must salute that". He said competition was good for the customers and ITC would compete. "Even that is true for Amul. One will like these brands to prosper. It is our aspiration to make ITC an Indian MNC. But charity begins at home. ITC will first focus on the domestic market," he said.