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. â€śThe 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,â€ť Witcoâ€™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 cityâ€™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 â€” bags they still have today.
â€śThis 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!),â€ť said one user.
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!). https://t.co/A9WTt1viLEâ€” g_c_mouli (@gcmouli) June 4, 2021
â€śIt 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,â€ť said another.
Witco, a 65-yr-old, luggage #retail chain, has closed operations citing #COVID19. They had shops in #Chennai, Calicut etc. 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 https://t.co/2gQpIn1Bw2 pic.twitter.com/jKZAlvQLuPâ€” Abhilash Annadurai (@abhilash_171) June 4, 2021
This is terrible news. 65-year-old brand shuts down. I fondly remember trips to Anna Nagar Witco ahead of school reopening to purchase school bags. One such backpack bought in 2002 is still in use. https://t.co/1PB9ZUjz7Yâ€” Susmita (@susmitavb) June 4, 2021
Went to Witco as early as last month in requirement of some umbrellas. Only to find it closed. The go to shop for my bags during school and college times. Saddening to see a brand shutting down for real. https://t.co/xhY2E0m2S3â€” Natarajan Somasundaram (@luckynatarajan8) June 4, 2021
oh my :( witco was a sign of absolute quality for the money. Loved their stores, the way they handled their customers . A lot of memories. Extremely sad.â€” sriram (@sriramv90) June 4, 2021
WITCO brings in so many childhood memories and nostalgia. A visit there to look at school bags, stationery even if you don't buy one that year was integral to school reopening ritual :( https://t.co/GUB8CezirKâ€” Saravana Madhusudhan B (@sarwan87) June 4, 2021