ITC aggressive on expansion — target 140 stores

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With the target of 140 retail destinations across 54 towns, ITC has chalked out aggressive expansion plans for next few years.

According to S Sivakumar, chief executive, ITC agri-business division, the company plans to open 140 Choupal Fresh stores in 54 towns in the next three-four years. Currently, ITC runs three stores in Chandigarh, Pune and Hyderabad. The fourth store is expected to come up in Kolkata soon.

The company format consists of wholesale and retail formats. The stores are open for wholesale operations between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m., and later for retail. Choupal Fresh stores work on a unique model, whereby they source (from local farmers) and sell products on the same day.

In order to provide a wider variety to consumers, ITC is also working with farmers on the cultivation of exotic varieties like broccoli, yellow and red capsicum and Chinese cabbage. For this, farmers are trying out both polyhouse and open-air cultivation, which are inspected regularly by ITC agri-field experts.

The company, which is a pioneer in engaging with farmers directly by offering a host of services to them, also plans to scale up its engagement with farmers and streamline the supply chain mechanism to make them feeders for the stores. While the feeder villages around the towns attend to product requirements of the stores during the season, ITC has also developed some back-up feeders for off-season requirements.

To open these new stores, approximately Rs 200 crore will be spent by March 2008. ITC is also in talks with some retail chains for supplying fresh produce, especially after its successful experiment with Q Mart and Food Bazar.

Even the expansion of Choupal Sagars, the company’s rural retailing business, is in the offing. ITC already has 12 such stores in three states – Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, while 11 more stores are under construction. In the coming months, ITC plans to set up 40 more stores in this format. The scope of these stores is bigger than hypermarkets.

– Bengaluru Bureau

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