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Witco shuts business; co-owner says demonetisation and Covid affected it badly | Chennai News – Times of India


CHENNAI: After a 70-year-run, Chennai-based luggage retail brand Witco (India) Pvt Limited shut business. Witco co-owner VP Harris said the business had been hit by the imposition of demonetization and crippled by Covid-19.
Witco closed down 11 of its last shops in Chennai and relieved 30 of its employees.
He said, “It is unfair for businesses to release growth figures compared to the lowest business made in 2020. We had reported a 20% YoY growth till the announcement of demonetization in 2016. Since then, we have seen only negative growth and this year was a blow. We do not expect business to come back to redeem even if the lockdown is lifted, especially after large corporations cut costs on business travel and the work from home concept is the new accepted norm. And imposition of Goods and Services Tax also created chaos,” Harris said.
Witco was started in 1951 by MPC Mohamed and was taken over by his sons – VP Nurdeen and VP Harris- after his demise.
Harris stressed that there was no idea to enter into any other business. “My son is professionally trained in the retail business and my daughter is pursuing a career in graphic designing. They both are professionals, and will find their own calling and cannot be the reason for us to continue this business.”
Driven by 70% of its business from premium luggage business for travel, Witco had no hope to find light at the end of the tunnel as multiple countries had imposed travel restrictions. Schoolbags, office bags and accessories consist of the rest 30% of business.
Unlike other business models, luggage business needs offline presence, he added.
“Unlike other retailers, we pay new rentals which are updated as per the market standards. After the first lockdown we got a 50% waiver on rent from few owners. However, we cannot expect the same again. We have also tried adopting to online business, but it no succeed as customers still prefer to check the luggage physically before placing an order,” Harris said.
“We are happy to announce that we are under no debt to anyone. We have settled all employees with their gratuity payment, which was smooth with our tie up with LIC Gratuity Policy. Even among our suppliers, we had requested them to take back their last supplies which happened without any hiccups.”
Witco had redesigned all its stores three years ago with huge write-offs.

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