Bengaluru: Fabelle luxury chocolates, made by ITC Ltd and sold only at the company’s hotels, will come to retail stores across the country next year, a top executive at the company said. ITC will set up separate manufacturing facilities for this purpose.

In May 2016, ITC introduced Fabelle chocolates at boutique stores at its hotels. The company currently has seven Fabelle boutiques and plans to open its first full-fledged standalone store in Delhi by end-December.

“This is part of the plan to enter the mass (premium) segment. You establish your credibility and then you get into the mass premium segment and make it more accessible in terms of availability," Hemant Malik, the divisional chief executive of ITC Foods said in an interview.

When it takes Fabelle to retail outlets, the company will also look at aligning the price more towards that channel. Currently, a box of five pralines costs nearly Rs500 while its single-origin cacaos, or dark chocolate, costs almost Rs1,000. It’s more a question of passing on the cost benefit from manufacturing it on a mass-scale rather than tweaking prices to suit that category, Malik said.

ITC currently makes Fabelle chocolates in Bengaluru. Its existing boutiques also have studios where its chocolatiers customize offerings to suit individual tastes.

ITC has already opened a standalone Fabelle store at a mall in Kolkata, a mini-version of boutiques at its own hotels, and does not have enough space to offer consumers the full Fabelle experience. Accordingly, Malik said he will count the Delhi store slated to open in the Select Citywalk mall as its first real standalone store.

ITC has also launched a chocolate making programme called Societe De Chocolat, essentially a series of classes conducted by its inhouse chocolate experts at its boutiques. ITC has roped in Billie McKay, the 2015 winner of popular reality cooking show Masterchef Australia, as mentor for Societe De Chocolat.

All this is part of the company’s wider strategy to enter new categories in the packaged food space as it targets revenue of Rs65,000 crore from that business division by 2030. In September, ITC had said it will enhance its portfolio in existing categories, expand into adjacent spaces and tap new categories to speed up growth of its branded packaged food business in an interview with Mint.

ITC’s branded packaged food business crossed Rs8,000 crore in the fiscal year ended 31 March 2017 (FY17), the firm had said in September.

“The chocolate market is fairly large, it’s about (an) Rs8,000 crore market. And it will continue to grow and I think we will demand our rightful share because of the product quality that we will give to the consumer," Malik said.

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