The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ITC to hike cigarette prices again

Calcutta, Sept. 9: ITC Ltd is expected to increase the price of its key cigarette brands soon. Though the ITC management refuses to comment on the issue, wholesalers and retailers have started piling up stocks in anticipation of the price revision.

The price of Gold Flake regular —one of ITC’s largest selling brands—has been increased to Rs 19. A pack of 10 Gold Flake (regular) previously cost Rs 17.50. The price of Gold Flake regular has been revised for the second time in a space of six months, making it dearer by Rs 2.50 per pack of 10.

When contacted an ITC spokesperson said: “It is our policy not to comment on price increase.”

ITC has been increasing the price of cigarettes to combat the fall in sales. Industry estimates put the decline in sales at close to 10 per cent by volume during 2001-02. ITC’s losses were around 8 per cent.

ITC chairman Y. C. Deveshwar had recently said: “Decline in volumes is a fact of life. One must learn to live with it.” In April, ITC increased prices of Bristol, besides Gold Flake.

“Though ITC is trying to reduce its reliance on cigarettes and tobacco and reposition itself as an FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) company, the two continue to be its main revenue-earners. It must sustain its revenues from tobacco though volumes continue to dwindle. This year its revenues from tobacco too may suffer due to the untimely rainfall,” an analyst said.

Apart from increasing the price, ITC has also been launching new brands in the premium segment to put up with fall in consumption. Recently, the company launched a new variant of India Kings.

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