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It is both with a sense of pride and profound sadness that I write to you today at a very solemn moment in the Company’s history. A deep sense of honour, as I embark on a journey to lead this exemplary Company as its Chairman & MD, and yet at a time when we grieve the loss of a guiding light for the ITC family of stakeholders, our former Chairman Mr YC Deveshwar.
Undoubtedly, Mr Deveshwar’s memory will be cherished for long with respect and reverence for the legendary stewardship he provided to ITC’s remarkable voyage of transformation. A visionary leader and patriot, his clarion call to “Put India First” reflected his deep belief that India needed national champions in business - corporations with an Indian soul that would use their immense managerial and innovative capabilities to serve the country’s larger priorities. This conviction shaped ITC’s vision not only to be an engine of growth for the Indian economy, but to ensure that growth was sustainable and inclusive. Today, this commitment is manifest in ITC’s growing presence across all the sectors of the economy -agriculture, manufacturing and services with innovative business models that synergise competitive growth with large scale societal value creation and environmental stewardship. Recognising his outstanding contribution to the nation, Mr Deveshwar was conferred the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian honours, by the Government of India.
Mr Deveshwar indeed leaves behind a rich legacy, and one that will continue to inspire us in the years ahead.
I have had the privilege of being associated with ITC for over 33 years across various Businesses and group companies. It has been an enriching experience to engage with and witness the evolution of the Company as it traversed many a trial and tribulation to emerge as a vibrant and valuable multibusiness conglomerate. Today, the mature businesses are leaders in their segments whilst the newer businesses are making appreciable progress. Given the emergent opportunities in a relatively fast growing economy like India, each of our businesses holds immense promise for the future.
This potential is even greater in our newer Businesses like FMCG where there is considerable headroom to grow.
It is our aspiration to be a leader in every business segment that we operate in and be acknowledged as a trusted provider of best-in-class products and services. Towards this, our relentless focus on building international competitiveness in each business will be supported by appropriate investments not only to reinforce the pole position that we have achieved in several segments but also to speedily attain leadership in the newer businesses. While this will undoubtedly entail upfront investments and gestation costs in the short term, particularly in the non-cigarette FMCG businesses, such investments will be a source of competitive advantage and create sustained value for stakeholders over the medium to long term as our brands garner larger scale and deepen their connect with consumers.
ITC’s diverse portfolio of businesses and competencies provide vibrant synergy that lend unique sources of competitive advantage. Whilst fortifying these enterprise strengths, structural capabilities are also being enhanced by investing in distributed supply chain infrastructure, including state-of-the-art company-owned integrated consumer goods manufacturing and logistics facilities, world-class pulp and paperboard technology, and iconic hospitality properties. Further, focussed innovation, deepening of R&D capabilities and the increased use of emerging digital technologies such as Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Machine Learning across areas such as consumer engagement and insight discovery, smart manufacturing, agri value chains, supply chain agility and front end execution will also lend new wings to our efforts in making each business extremely competitive.
As we build scale, we remain deeply committed to go beyond market leadership alone to creating much larger societal value in an exemplary fashion.
This vision to put ‘Nation First’ with the credo of ‘Sab Saath Badhein’ inspires us to integrate sustainability as a bedrock of our corporate strategy as we shape an inspired Indian enterprise of tomorrow. ITC’s pledge to serve national priorities whilst achieving international benchmarks in competitiveness is manifest in our chosen approach to growth which we call ‘Responsible Competitiveness’ -a paradigm that remains at the core of our thought, strategy and action.
As a new Government takes office with a resounding mandate from the people of India, we are confident and optimistic that their proactive endeavours to create structural drivers of rapid growth will augur well for the economy. Significant reforms such as GST have stabilised well and the various social schemes that are shaping ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas’ point to an optimistic future. With rising incomes, a young demographic profile and concerted efforts to enhance agricultural & social development, a New India is indeed being shaped. ITC is well poised to benefit from the anticipated acceleration in the growth trajectory whilst simultaneously making a meaningful contribution to the Government’s vision for inclusive socioeconomic development.
As I traverse the journey ahead at the helm of your Company, I am reassured by the strength of our world-class talent who have ingrained in themselves ITC’s DNA to pursue competitive growth with respect for environment and social development.
I will look forward to your support and guidance, as always, to take this institution to even greater heights.