Wagh Bakri group to Enter in Tea Plantation Business by 2015

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Chairman and managing director of the company, Piyush Desai who was in Guwahati on Tuesday said, “We distribute over 30 million kgs (mkgs) of tea annually, out of which 80 to 85 per cent of tea is sourced from Assam.
GUWAHATI: It has reported that Wagh Bakri Tea Group, the largest privately held packaged tea group will get into tea plantation business by 2015. The group is ready with war chest of Rs 50 to 100 Crore for acquiring the tea estates in Eastern India.

piyush desaiWagh Bakri Tea, a 121-year old tea brand from Gujarat is looking to foray in the plantation business with acquisition of five to seven tea estates in Assam and West Bengal.

Chairman and managing director of the company, Piyush Desai who was in Guwahati on Tuesday said, “We distribute over 30 million kgs (mkgs) of tea annually, out of which 80 to 85 per cent of tea is sourced from Assam.”

He added that it is logical for the company to get into plantation as the company can have a absolute control on the quality. “We are seriously looking for good gardens and will invest close to Rs 50 to Rs 100 Crore for buying the tea estates.”

Wagh Bakri is actively considering its foray in coffee and has decided to increase its retail franchise “tea lounge” from three to 23. Desai said, “We will add another 20 outlets, 10 each in Delhi and Mumbai.”

Desai met Assam industry and commerce minister, Pradyut Bordoloi and suggested him to set up a committee to study the reasons as why Guwahati tea auction centre (GTAC) is not able to attract more buyers.

Bordoloi has recently warned to withdraw subsidies and tax benefits of the tea companies and bought leaf factories (BLF) which are bypassing GTAC in terms of auction sale. Assam produces around 550 million kgs (mkgs) of made tea and only a paltry of 27.5 per cent is routed through the GTAC.

Desai said, “We have to look at taxation, good administration and system. Central sales tax of GTAC is lower than Kolkata. However what are required is good warehouses. Kolkata has good warehouse where there is hardly any pilferage. Sampling of tea from Assam has to be improved. The minister has assured that government will address all these concerns. I am sure offering from Assam will increase once CCTV cameras are installed in the warehouses.”

(Economic Times, 4 December 2013)

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