ITC plans to open more hotels overseas: CMD Sanjiv Puri

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ITC plans to open more hotels overseas: CMD Sanjiv Puri
ITC Maurya​ITC
India's diversified entity ITC plans to open more hotels overseas with neighbouring countries and the Middle East as primary target markets after opening of its first international property here, company Chairman and Managing Director Sanjiv Puri said on Thursday. The company's arm ITC Hotels, which had opened 22 new properties in the last 24 months, plans to add another 70 hotels in the next five years in India as part of expansion plans in the hospitality sector.
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Besides the hotels business, the company will look for opportunities to expand the presence of FMCG and other verticals in new overseas markets as well.

"We are open to exploring opportunities that come about. I think we have strong credentials in hospitality which we can take outside India now. Very clearly at the moment the focus is on proximal markets, be it for hospitality, be it for FMCG...," Puri said here at a press conference after the opening of the 352-room luxury property, ITC Ratnadipa here.

He said as the company explores and understands a place for a particular business, it may look at it as a market for other verticals as well.

Citing the example of Nepal, Puri said,"We started with other businesses and are now looking at hospitality (there). Here (in Sri Lanka) we have started with hospitality...as we explore and understand the place, we will look at possibilities in some of our other sectors as well."

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On overseas expansion of the hospitality business, while the company's focus is more on 'proximal markets', he said,"We are open to it if there are some interesting opportunities beyond it. We will certainly be interested in pursuing that."

When asked if ITC is looking at the Middle East as a market for the hospitality business, he said it is a vibrant economy right now with terrific growth plans and "if opportunity comes our way then we will certainly explore that".

Puri also said the company will look to expand in more destinations in Sri Lanka going forward.

"This (opening of ITC Ratnadipa) is the starting point and yes, we want to expand and grow the economy and contribute to the development of tourism in Sri Lanka," he said.

When asked about ITC's overall expansion plans in the hospitality sector, he said,"We have a very healthy pipeline of 70 hotels in five years."

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All these 70 hotels are for the Indian domestic market and most of them will be the upscale segments.

He, however, said "(For) overseas we're just starting our journey. So we have not yet got to the stage to start putting a number right here."

On investments planned for the overall expansion, he did not share a specific number but said "between renovation and new properties will spend somewhere between Rs 700 crore to Rs 1,000 crore a year".

When asked about the progress of the demerger of ITC Hotels and its planned public listing, Puri said it is happening in line with the indicated timelines and is expected "before the second half of this year or the end of this year".

At its new property here, the company had invested about USD 500 million. It was inaugurated on Thursday by Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

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The ITC Ratnadipa or 'Island of Gems' has 352 guest rooms, suites and service apartments, each with private balconies with waterfront views.

Earlier in the day, speaking at the opening of the new hotel, Puri said,"It is very natural for us to specifically focus on markets in proximal areas, encouraged also by our Prime Minister's (Narendra Modi) vision of neighbourhood first where Sri Lanka has a very special position. ITC is deeply committed to growing our presence and contributing to hospitality in the region."

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