"The projects at Kolkata and Upper Worli are progressing satisfactorily and are expected to open by end-2002," ITC’s head of corporate communications SH Venkatramani said.
He, however, acknowledged that steep worldwide decline in business and leisure travel, combined with the gestation of new properties considerably impacted the results of their hotels business.
Echoing company chairman YC Deveshwar’s line, Mr Venkatramani said, "Although the market is expected to remain depressed in the near term, the long-term potential of this industry in India remains exciting."
The Indian tobacco giant had reported 17 per cent spurt in third quarter profit after tax, despite domestic cigarette volumes continuing to remain under pressure due to ’the steep increase in excise duties imposed in the last Union Budget and the adverse impact on the growing contraband trade in cigarettes.’
Faced with a decline in share of cigarettes in India’s tobacco consumption to about 14 per cent and consequent increase accruing to other forms of tobacco consumption, Mr Venkatramani said the company’s sustained focus on investment in brands enabled a deceleration in the rate of de-growth during the quarter ended December, 2001.
The head corporate communications officer said in continuation of the company’s strategy to constantly upgrade its product range to cater to a variety of tastes and flabour options, the third quarter witnessed the launch of Wills Navy Cut Lights, the initial market response of which had been ’encouraging’.
He said the scale up of the Lifestyle Retailing business was on schedule with seven new stores opening during the quarter taking the total operational ’Wills Lifestyle’ stores to 29.
About the company’s recently launched ’Kitchens of India’ range of premium, value-added packaged foods, he said, now the number of items had been increased to three, including ’Dal Bukhara’, ’Kundan Qaliaya’ and ’Chicken Chettinad’.— PTI