This is the second installment of Indian Hospitality series.  You can read History of Indian luxury hospitality here. As promised, now we would look into one of the largest and upcoming luxury hotelier chain in ITC.

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History of ITC Hotels

Modest start

ITC began its business life in 1910, operating out of a modest office in Radha Bazar Street in Calcutta. At the time, this office was just a small outpost of what was a multinational corporation-the Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited, which was headquartered in Britain. As the ownership of the company became progressively more Indian, the company’s name was changed, becoming the India Tobacco Company in 1970 and ITC Limited in 1974. From then on, as the company’s portfolio expanded beyond tobacco to include fast moving consumer goods such as food, personal care products, clothing, stationery, incense and safety matches, among others, not to mention its booming hotel business, the company was rechristened ITC Limited, with ‘ITC’ no longer an acronym.

The company’s journey from that beginning to a multi-business enterprise is truly representational of the science of staying relevant, reading the signs and adapting.

Expansion plan

In the mid-70s, ITC ventured into the hotels and paperboards businesses. The group leveraged its consumer insights and marketing skills to expand its hotels business, and over the years reshaped the landscape of the Indian hotel industry. The hotels business was launched in 1975 with the acquisition of a hotel in Chennai, later rechristened ITC-Welcom group, Hotel Chola and subsequently My Fortune, Chennai.

ITC has over a hundred owned and managed properties spread across India under four brands-ITC Hotels, Luxury Collection, WelcomHotels, Fortune Hotels and WelcomHeritage.

Under Y.C. Deveshwar’s leadership, the company redefined its vision to build an exemplary Indian enterprise. The company was restructured and it echoed ‘India First’ in its new strategy of creating a value chain. 

The ITC-Starwood partnership came into being in 1979, with the launch of the Sheraton brand. In 2007, the two companies signed an agreement through which Starwood introduced The Luxury Collection brand in India, presently accounting for 11 hotels. 

ITC started creating properties by creating a presence of local dynasty being felt in their luxury collection.  They wanted to preserve local culture and display how it was influenced by local ruling dynasty. They started introducing signature dishes that were produced from healthy yet forgotten grains.

ITC created following properties for a tribute to local dynasty. As they term it ” Luxury created by History.” ITC want you to experience the era and you can always request for heritage walk in their properties. All their properties are business properties where as only ITC Grand Bharat is their true resort property.

ITC Chola – Chola Dynasty in Chennai
ITC Kakatiya – Kakatiya Dynasty in Hyderabad
ITC Maratha – Maratha Dynasty in Mumbai

ITC Maurya – Maurya Dynasty in New Delhi

ITC Mughal – Mughal Dynasty in Agra
ITC Rajputana – Rajputs dynasty in Jaipur

ITC Sonar – Pala dynasty in Kolkata

They also created Indo – European tribute properties in Bangalore. I am surprised that they didn’t pay tribute to local founder Kempegowda.

ITC Windsor
ITC Gardenia

Only stand out is ITC Grand Central in Mumbai which was designed with the Local Zoroastrian community in the mind.  I believe it was factored in that way as they already had Maratha in place when they developed this property. 

ITC Grand Central

They renewed a 40-year partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts for 11 luxury hotels and another under the Sheraton brand, while agreements had been signed to extend the collaboration for three other upcoming luxury hotels.
ITC Kohinoor in Hyderabad, ITC Narmada in Ahmedabad and ITC  Royal  Bengal in Kolkata – are to be completed in the next four years and take the inventory count to 15.

All the luxury collection properties under ITC umbrella are considered Eco-friendly property as all of them have lead II Platinum certificate. They generate their own electricity via windmills and recycle all the water they use. As ITC likes to call their properties “Responsible Luxury.” It’s such an oxymoron for the company that is one of the reasons for developing pollution via cancer sticks. Thier foundation is still tobacco sticks, however, now they are expanding into packaged Food & Beverages, Wills clothing, beauty products and lot more. 

It took its first step toward international expansion with an upcoming super premium luxury hotel in Colombo. In addition, ITC Hotels also recently tied up with RP Group Hotels & Resorts to manage five hotels in Dubai and India.

That was when  ITC is now among the top three in India in terms of contribution to the exchequer. Over the past 21 years, the company’s contribution to the Indian exchequer has been about Rs 2.7 lakh crore.


Coming up next

ITC is currently aiming to become India’s foremost FMCG company. It aspires to achieve a turnover of Rs 1 lakh crore by 2030. The company is aggressively betting on the future, having invested significant sums to set up the ITC Life Sciences & Technology Centre (LSTC) in Bengaluru, for the purpose of research and development. Product development in the personal care arena will be inspired from research focusing on ‘Indianness’-essentially, a blend of Indian genetics as well as environmental factors of prime relevance to the Indian consumer of personal care products. The LSTC has already filed more than 630 patent applications.

ITC is also investing in creating national assets by setting up 20 integrated consumer goods manufacturing and logistics facilities. It has also invested in the construction of 10 signature hotel properties. That aside, the company is also looking to enhance its leadership in the farm-to-fork value chain by putting up state-of-the-art climate controlled infrastructure and expanding its value chain to cover farm produce, including fresh, frozen and dehydrated fruits and vegetables.

Next edition – India Hotel Company


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