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RETAIL SECTOR

Local retailers tough it out despite heated competition from global contenders

The country’s retail sector has over the past two years witnessed significant changes, pitting the remaining local players against the foreign brands

In Summary

•Competition in Kenya’s retail sector has been on the rise with multinational supermarket chains including Carrefour, Shoprite and Game Stores opening outlets in recent years, going head to head with the now dominant of Naivas and Tuskys

•With Uchumi and Nakumatt struggling to stay afloat throughout the year, a number of mid-tier retailers have been expanding rapidly

Naivas opening in Westlands at The Mall. The store from outside. 22th of march 2013. Anna Bohlin.
Naivas opening in Westlands at The Mall. The store from outside. 22th of march 2013. Anna Bohlin.

Despite the collapse of Kenya’s once-dominant retailers Nakumatt and Uchumi, not all hope is lost for the local retail sector as supermarkets fight tooth and nail to join the big leagues.

With Uchumi and Nakumatt struggling to stay afloat throughout the year, a number of mid-tier retailers have been expanding rapidly, trying to keep up the pace with increased competition from their global counterparts.

One such case is Naivas Supermarket, which after a deal with Nakumatt to acquire six of the dying retailer’s six branches will be Kenya’s largest retailer.

This will bring the firm’s total number of branches to 64, the majority of which are located in Nairobi as Naivas charters on to other towns in the country.

This means Naivas Supermarkets has officially surpassed the once glorious Nakumatt, which at its peak had 62 branches across East Africa with 45 in Kenya, nine in Uganda, five in Tanzania and three in Rwanda.

Initially, Tusker Mattresses Limited (Tuskys) was set to takeover Nakumatt operations as the new managers but later pulled out of the deal due to rising concerns over some of the proposals Nakumatt’s court-appointed administrator had presented to creditors.

The botched deal now places Tuskys as runner up in terms of its branch portfolio at 56 outlets countrywide.

Another strong contender in the market is Quick Mart Supermarkets, set to have a network of 30 stores located in urban and peri-urban areas as the year comes to a close, making it the country’s third-largest retailer.

In September, Quick Mart, which operates stores in Nairobi, Nakuru and Kiambu counties announced it would merge operations with Tumaini Self Service operating branches Nairobi, Kisumu and Kajiado counties.

This after Mauritius-based private equity firm Adenia Partners concluded a deal to acquire majority stake at Quickmart through its special purpose vehicle Sokoni Retail Kenya at an undisclosed amount.

“The merger will bring together two emerging retail chains both undergoing rapid growth. The combined company will create a network of 30 stores at the end of 2019, all located in convenient neighbourhood locations,” Quick Mart managing director Duncan Kinuthia and his Tumaini counterpart Moses Nditika said in a joint statement.

Quickmart plans to open five to six new stores by next year as part of an aggressive growth drive targeting the underserved segments of the Kenyan market.

The country’s retail sector has over the past two years witnessed significant changes, pitting the remaining local players against foreign brands.

Competition in Kenya’s retail sector has been on the rise with multinational supermarket chains including Carrefour, Shoprite and Game Stores opening outlets in recent years, going head to head with the now dominant of Naivas and Tuskys.

Botswana’s Choppies Supermarket has however had a tough stint trying to penetrate the local market four years after acquiring Ukwala stores for Ksh1 billion.