Witco (India) Pvt Limited, one of the oldest retail brands from Chennai, has shut down its operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 70-year-old brand, which sold luggage and bags, said in a note on its official website, “We regret to inform you that we have closed down our business. The decision to close down this business was not an easy one, but unfortunately due to COVID-19 and the restrictions on international travel it was not sustainable for us. We would like to thank all of our customers and our esteemed clientele for their patronage over the last 70 years,” it added.
VP Harris, Managing Director, Witco, told a leading media organization, “We shut down our operations in January itself. What really happened was last March  when the first lockdown was announced we (the family) sat together and evaluated the business and we found that international travel will not happen for a long time.”
“My father founded the business and ran it for almost 25 years, and now in its 70th year, my brother and I were running the show since wound up operations. The current unprecedented circumstances left us with no other option,” he further added.
A few years ago, the company also forayed into the online space but Harris said that business there was quite minuscule. “We did run a trial on e-commerce sites and we had our presence on Amazon and Flipkart but when it came to luggage as a category, customers prefer to come to see the product and then purchase. Customers were comfortable buying other bags online,” he added.
Witco started its journey in 1951 as West India Plastic Trading Co in a 500 sq ft store at George Town in Chennai. During the 1970s, the firm slowly started expanding its presence in Kochi, Kozhikode, and Coimbatore and after a few years, it even ventured into the Karnataka market.
Witco sold luggage at various price bands. It sold suitcases, travel bags, backpacks, handbags, and laptop bags among others.