The company said that it was further impacted due to the restrictions on international travel.

A suitcase and backpack on an airport seatImage for representation
Money Retail Friday, June 04, 2021 - 11:55

Luggage and personal effects retail chain Witco, which was in operation for over 65 years, announced that it has closed down its business. While the announcement on the company's Facebook page was made on April 5, the news only came to light this week. The company said that the chain was impacted due to the impact of the pandemic, and restrictions on international travel made it more difficult for the company to stay afloat. “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,” Witco’s statement on its website read.

While multi-brand retailer Witco's primary presence was in Chennai, it also had stores in Trichy, Kozhikode, Bengaluru and Kochi. At one point, it commanded over 60% of the market share of the city’s premium luggage market. Witco started its operations in the 1950s in George Town, Chennai, and was called West India Plastic Trading Co. It dealt in plasticware, travel goods and accessories. 

Witco offered not only travel bags, but also bags for the regular commuter. Products it sold ranged from travel and laptop bags, backpacks, school bags for kids, as well as handbags.

Brands it sold include Samsonite, Delsey, American Tourister, Case Logic, Nike, Puma, Fiorelli, Blues & Blues, VIP, Skybags, Baggit, Hidesign, Wildcraft and more. It also sold products on e-commerce websites such as Amazon and Myntra.

Many from Chennai took to Twitter to reminisce about the iconic brand. Many said they purchased their bags for school or when they left to go abroad to study or to work from Witco — bags they still have today.

“This is super sad. Witco was that one stop that you always window shopped and oggled in Forum Mall. It was also the place where we bought the first two large samsonite boxes that every graduate student buys before he goes the US (and that was 18 years ago!),” said one user.

“It feels a bit personal to me. Still recall going to their shop in Calicut with my dad every year when my school reopens, to buy school bag, water bottle etc,” said another. 

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