Kolkata, home to the country’s largest cigarette-maker ITC Ltd, is witnessing a fierce turf war, as Delhi-based tobacco company Godfrey Philips has re-entered the Bengal market after eight years.
Godfrey Phillips accused that its re-entry is fraught with unethical marketing practices from competitors, including deliberate attempts to buy out its entire stocks from vendors.
ITC, which controls about 95 per cent of the 800-million-stick-a-month market in West Bengal, however, claimed that it would never indulge in such practices. “They are claiming it, now let them substantiate it,” said ITC spokesperson Nazeeb Arif.
Godfrey Phillips executive vice-president, sales, Bhisham Wadhera said, “We decided to re-enter the Bengal market with a special blend of ‘Four Square’ at Rs 20 for a pack of 10 sticks. We knew that we would face stiff competition, but we never thought that it would be so bitter.”
The Delhi-based company has lodged FIRs against representatives of Supra Marketing agency, believed to be distributors of ITC products here. “We faced similar situation in Bangalore eight years back when we wanted to launch our products there,” Wadhera alleged.
However, a few cigarette vendors in the Dalhousie area in downtown Kolkata said Godfrey Phillips’ stocks were being bought out by certain people.