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Tata Tea spotlight on brands

Calcutta, Sept. 16: All the eight resolutions moved at the 39th annual general meeting of Tata Tea Limited, including adoption of profit and loss account for the year 2001-02, were put to vote today by chairman Ratan Tata following a demand made by few shareholders.

Apart from the adoption of accounts, resolutions pertaining to payment of dividend, reappointment of Ratan Tata, Y H Malegam, K Pringle as directors and V Venkiteswaran as wholetime director and that of appointment of auditors too were put to vote.

Earlier, addressing the shareholders of the company Ratan Tata said that the company would soon launch or relaunch a few branded teas. “We continue to focus on establishing our brands and will launch some flavoured and herbal teas soon.”

The company, which witnessed a decline of 1.4 per cent in its market share last fiscal due to over six per cent dip in the packet tea market, was confident that with brand value coming up there would be some improvement in the market share.

“The value of the brand is uppermost in our mind,” he said.

To regain the export market, Tata said focus would be on five to six new markets, including Kazakhistan, UAE and others in West Asia this year.

Tata Tea has made a firm commitment to the commerce ministry that they will export 15 per cent more this year compared to previous year.

“We are aligning with the Tea Board Strategy and to export more we have to concentrate on orthodox varieties. We expect that exports will be at least 15 per cent more than what it was last year,” he added.

Earlier, Tata said the tea scenario in the country in 2002-03 looked as tough as in 2001-02 due to falling prices and increasing production. The company, he said, was planning to establish plantation marks to sell loose tea under a brand name.

Lower production in the first half of the current year by about 32 million kg might bring some firmness in prices, he said.

Despite the adversities, Tata said, the company paid much higher dividend of 70 per cent compared to other companies in the business.

Later talking to newspersons H. R. Khusrokhan, managing director of the company, said that they have decided to come up with flavoured teas and herbal teas in the coming days.

The company had offered a voluntary retirement scheme to its 3,500 employees including managerial staff across the country. About 12 per cent of these 3,500 people have accepted the VRS.

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