ITC is believed to be scouting for the acquisition of a denim brand that can emerge as a neat fit for the apparel business in its retailing division.
Sources said ITC Apparel was looking at new categories to expand in a market where it is already present through Wills Lifestyle at the premium end and John Players in the mass segment.
The company's sights will be on a home-grown denim brand that can help it break into the mid-priced jeanswear business. It is not clear if the denim business will be limited to the mid-priced segment.
Given the company's strategy to straddle the high-end and mass markets, it could look at joint ventures/licensing channels to bring in a premium international jeans brand.
CEO Chitranjan Dar said expanding its range of products - including denims - was an important objective, but his plate was full in managing the Wills Lifestyle and John Players brands at this juncture. “We are not looking for new buyouts now,” he added.
There has been speculation in the industry that Spykar and Maxwell Industries' Live-In brands are on the block. However, the promoters of Live-In, with sales of Rs 45 crore, have denied plans of a selloff. The brand's visibility has diminished in recent years.
The domestic jeanswear market is pegged at 32m pairs annually, and estimated to be growing at 12-15%. Sources said ITC is keeping the option of developing a new denim brand open if acquisition plans fall through.
The private sector giant knows it has the resources and potential to create a brand - like Sunfeast in biscuits - if takeover targets are not suitably priced.