In a move to carve a simpler and better way into rural markets and expand its retail operations to the grassroots, ITC Ltd will open small-format stores in the rural areas. The planned stores will be in sync with Choupal Sagar, its existing hypermarket chain, and will be operational early next year.
“The idea is to penetrate lower-income level rural areas through the smaller Choupal Sagar stores, spread over one acre or so,” S Sivakumar, CEO of Agri Business division, ITC Ltd, said on the sidelines of the CII Marketing Summit.
The number of stores planned is not disclosed, though the company confirmed that each store will require investments around Rs 2 crore and will be set up in small towns and rural areas of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The outlets are expected to house 12,000-13,000 stock-keeping units at 40 locations, among the existing 170 across the country where the company already runs its big-format stores.
Also on the company’s cards is the expansion of its e-Choupals, a platform where villagers can access the Internet.
“We will increase the number of e-Choupals from the current 6,400 in 130 districts to 20,000 across 350 districts,” confirmed Sivakumar.
The company will open around 200 new Choupal Fresh food-and-beverage stores in major towns of the country, including metros, to expand its presence in urban areas.