The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ITC cigarette sales rise marginally

Calcutta, April 9: ITC registered a marginal growth in sale of cigarettes in 2002-03, a senior official said. ITC’s earnings from the segment has grown over the years despite pressure on volumes.

Kurush Grant, chief executive of the tobacco division, said sale volumes for the industry had grown 1 per cent during 2002-03, and ITC’s growth was better than the industry average.

Industry observers say the growth in sales volume could be attributed to the government’s decision to keep the excise duty on cigarettes unchanged.

“In the past, the exchequer’s earnings from taxes on cigarettes have declined when the excise duty was raised sharply,” Grant pointed out. And since duties were not increased, prices remained largely unchanged.

He, however, pointed out that consumption of tobacco in other forms — chewing tobacco in particular — had outgrown intake in the form of cigarettes.

Consequently, the share of cigarettes in the tobacco basket had fallen further. “It used to be around 14 per cent earlier,” he added.

Speaking on diversification of ITC’s business portfolio, Grant said the company owned the John Players trademark for “a wide variety of products” including cigarettes, and that it was likely to be extended to other categories like homecare and personal care. ITC has already launched the John Players brand in readymade garments.

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