Thursday, August 23, 2007

ITC plans small hypermarkets in rural areas

ITC on Wednesday said it would set up new small format stores in rural areas on the lines of existing hypermarket chain - Choupal Sagar - by early next year, even as it plans to ramp up its retail operations.

The company was planning a large number of smaller Choupal Sagar stores, which would have a capacity to house 12,000-13,000 units at 40 locations out of 170 across the country, where ITC runs its big format stores.

"The idea is to penetrate the rural areas where the income levels are even lesser through smaller Choupal Sagar stores covering around one acre of area," ITC Limited chief executive officer (agri business) S Sivakumar told reporters on the sidelines of CII Marketing Summit in New Delhi.

These stores would cost Rs 2 crores (Rs 20 million) each and would be set up in small towns and rural areas of UP, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, he said without disclosing how many outlets the company planned to open.

ITC was also looking for a multi-fold increase in the number of e-Choupal - a platform where villagers can access Internet - in the next 5-6 years.

"We will increase the number of e-Choupals from current 6,400 in 130 districts of the country to 20,000 across 350 districts in the next 5-6 years," Sivakumar said.
He said the company would also open around 200 new Choupal Fresh outlets in major towns of the country, including the metros, to expand its presence in urban areas.
The urban retail chain focuses on stocking fresh horticulture produce like fruits and vegetables, for which ITC has set up cold chain.

"Currently, we have three Choupal Fresh stores in Pune, Hyderabad and Chandigarh and the number is likely to go up to 50 in these three cities by this fiscal. In the second phase, ITC would set up 140 new stores in other cities including Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai," he said.
The company was also focusing on strengthening health services in rural India.

Thanks to Rediff

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