ITC on the hunt for partnerships for its hospital venture

A man talks on his mobile phone as he walks past an ITC office building in Kolkata. (Photo: Reuters)
Diversified conglomerate ITC might explore the option of partnerships for its proposed multi-specialty hospitals.

In January, it sought shareholders’ approval to alter its memorandum of association to enter the health care sector. It is now in the process of assembling a team to prepare a plan. It is yet to set a schedule for the venture's takeoff.

Sanjiv Puri, CEO & executive director, says there is already a degree of synergy between the company’s existing line of business and the health care initiative. “One piece of hospitals is the hospitality bit, which ITC knows well. For the piece on medical domain, bringing in partners who specialise in that part is an option. But, these are early stages,” he said.

Even for the hospitality segment, ITC has had a partner in Starwood Hotels & Resorts for nearly four decades. This partnership began in 1979, with the Sheraton brand. In 2007, both companies signed an agreement through which Starwood introduced The Luxury Collection brand in India, presently at 11 hotels. In 2016, the partnership was renewed to cover existing and upcoming hotels, taking the inventory to 15.

That apart, ITC's hospitality business spreads to 100-odd properties, comprising brands, ITC Hotels, WelcomHotels, Fortune and WelcomHeritage. The room inventory is about  9,000. ITC had told its shareholders that setting up of world-class, multi-speciality, hospitals would leverage the company's experience in the hospitality and tourism sector, and could be utilised for supporting ‘medical tourism’.

“There is a huge segment of the market that is waiting to be serviced. Our aim is to design the entire system with a patient-centric protocol. The service should lead to definite patient outcomes, meaning if we give good care, we automatically get good business. It's the same model as our FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) business — give the right products and you would be rewarded and recognised, and get good business,” said Puri on the philosophy behind the venture.

In the non-cigarette FMCG business, ITC is among the top three entities in foods; it says it aspires to be the top in the next two years.

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