ITC Evolution: Beyond Cigarettes to a Multisector Powerhouse

Delve into the story of ITC Limited: A 100-year-old legacy of transformation, pioneering strategies in FMCG, hotels, and technology. Learn how ITC navigated through decades to become a symbol of diversified business success.

ITC Evolution: Beyond Cigarettes to a Multisector Powerhouse

Tuesday December 19, 2023,

3 min Read

Founded in 1910 by William M. Jacks, ITC Limited has evolved from its modest beginnings into a diversified conglomerate, marking its presence in sectors like Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), hotels, paperboards, packaging, agribusiness, and information technology. Initially established as Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited, it underwent several name changes to reflect its increasingly Indian identity, finally settling on 'ITC Limited' in 2001.

Humble Beginnings and Historic Decisions

ITC's journey began in a small office in Kolkata. A landmark decision was made in 1926 when ITC bought land at 37, Chowringhee, Kolkata, for Rs 310,000, where the iconic 'Virginia House' headquarters would later be established.

Strategic Business Expansions

In 1925, ITC expanded into the realm of packaging and printing, primarily to support its cigarette operations. Progressing to the 1970s, the company branched out into the hotel industry, inaugurating its hospitality division with the purchase of a hotel in Chennai. Presently, this sector boasts over 115 properties under various brand names.

ITC marked its entry into the paperboard industry in 1979 by founding ITC Bhadrachalam Paperboards Limited. This entity eventually amalgamated with the Tribeni Tissues Division, creating the Paperboards & Specialty Papers Division. This initiative played a pivotal role in uplifting Sarapaka, a region in Andhra Pradesh previously known for its economic challenges.

International Expansion and Product Diversification

In 1985, ITC ventured beyond Indian borders for the first time, establishing Surya Tobacco Co. in Nepal. The following decade was marked by growth and integration in the paperboard industry, alongside the creation of the Agri Business Division, capitalizing on agricultural sourcing expertise.

Entering the 21st century, ITC expanded into the educational and stationery market with lines such as Paperkraft and Classmate. By 2000, the corporation had segregated its information technology sector, forming ITC Infotech India Limited.

A Foray into Food and Personal Care

ITC's entry into the Foods business began in 2001, growing into a significant player with various brands and a wide range of products. The Personal Care Business was launched in 2005, expanding into various segments like skincare and hygiene products.

Recent Developments and Future Prospects

In recent years, ITC has made significant acquisitions and launched new products in various sectors, including the launch of Armenteros cigars in 2010 and entering the dishwash gel category in 2021.

From its inception as a tobacco company to a multi-faceted conglomerate, ITC Limited's journey is a testament to its adaptability and commitment to growth, innovation, and contributing to India's socio-economic development.