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Case Code: LDEN143
Case Length: 17 Pages 
Period: 1968-2019   
Pub Date: 2019
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization : ITC Limited
Industry :Diversified
Countries : India
Themes: Leading Change/ Leadership Style
Case Studies  
Business Strategy
Human Resource Management
IT and Systems
Leadership & Entrepreneurship

Y C Deveshwar and ITC Limited

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Deveshwar led ITC’s diversification into the retail business with the “Wills Lifestyle” (Wills was a cigarette brand which was extended for retail) retail outlet in New Delhi in 2000. At the inauguration of first Wills Lifestyle store, Deveshwar said, “We are nurturing the `Wills' trademark to be a clear leader in premium lifestyle retailing in India. Over time, we aspire to position it as a leading Indian international brand with a significant global presence. In fulfilling this vision, ITC aims to make a major contribution to the fibre-to-fashion value chain in India to enhance international competitiveness.” 'Wills Lifestyle' stores offered the consumer the 'Wills Sport' brand of casual wear...

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Deveshwar was keen on setting up an integrated and specialized global technology services center. In 2000, he launched ITC InfoTech as a wholly-owned subsidiary of ITC. ITC InfoTech was conceptualized by Deveshwar to aid ITC’s future projects involving technology. It also catered to enterprises in supply chain based industries (retail, manufacturing, hi-tech) and services (banking, financial services, insurance, healthcare, airline, and hospitality) through a combination of traditional and newer business models, as a long-term sustainable partner...


Also in 2000, ITC forayed into the Agri Business under Deveshwar’s leadership. It created an Integrated Rural Development Program aimed at fostering sustainable and inclusive growth in India. The program was known as e-Choupal (Refer to Figure I). According to Deveshwar, “The ITC e-Choupal was also born from vision to create competitiveness of Indian agriculture and create value for India. Our Agri business was reshaped to enhance competitiveness of Indian agriculture — we went rural, we empowered farmers through e-Choupal and created capacity in rural areas. By doing so, we helped make the entire agricultural value chain competitive. We became marketers of Indian agri products and a partner of the Indian farmer.” ..


ITC was primarily known for its wide range of classified cigarettes. Deveshwar focused upon its primary business and launched many new brands under different nomenclature (Refer to Exhibit IV for various cigarettes brands of ITC). ITC launched the Armenteros cigars in 2010. These cigars grew to become one of the popular cigars in India. West Asia was a key export region for ITC and it offered a portfolio of cigarettes in that region. ITC was the third largest player in Bahrain and Qatar as of 2019...


Deveshwar once said in 2017, “I started as a centre-half, because in a situation of crisis… there were so many fires that you have to take the hose in your hand and run around and put out the fire and at the same time start constructing. Now I am like a referee. Now I whistle.” According to corporate observers, Deveshwar led ITC’s “strategic thrust to create multiple drivers of growth to make a significant and growing contribution to the Indian economy” ...


The future-proofing of ITC had already been done by Deveshwar. He created an Indian multinational, with his famous ideology “Let’s put India first”. As of 2019, ITC had been trying hard to shed its cigarette-maker tag. However, many analysts were skeptical about ITC’s expanded and diversified portfolio being enough for it to emerge as a complete FMCG company and about its ability to stop depending upon cigarettes as its revenue driver in 2019...


Exhibit I: Deveshwar’s Journey
Exhibit II: FMCG Portfolio of ITC, as of June 2019
Exhibit III: ITC Infotech’s 5D Framework Offerings, as of June 2019
Exhibit IV: Cigarette Brands of ITC, as of June 2019
Exhibit V: Hotel Brands of ITC, as of June 2019
Exhibit VI: Paperboard and Specialty Paper Brands of ITC, as of June 2019
Exhibit VII: ITC’s Growth under Deveshwar