Uchumi closes 30-year-old Sarit Centre branch to cut costs

A restocked Uchumi Hyper at Sarit Centre in Westlands, Nairobi, as pictured on December 21,2017. /ENOS TECHE
A restocked Uchumi Hyper at Sarit Centre in Westlands, Nairobi, as pictured on December 21,2017. /ENOS TECHE

Uchumi Supermarkets has announced the closure of its Hyper branch at Sarit Centre in Westlands, Nairobi, after more than 30 years.

In a statement on Friday, the retailer said the supermarket will be closed officially on Sunday.

"The decision is part of the retail store’s comprehensive turnaround plan and new cost management strategy that seeks to streamline its store portfolio and intensify cost efficiency efforts per store," acting

CEO Mohammed Mohammed said.

Mohammed said the retailer is in search of cost-effective retail space as it continues to align with changing trends in modern trade.

Chief Operating Officer Andrew Dixon said the Sarit Centre branch noted the Sarit Centre branch had been open for more than 30 years.

"[We were] among the first tenants. We wish to thank the management for their support over the years. [We are] also grateful to all our loyal customers who have stood with us."

Dixon said they

will look into the relocation of outlets to to more cost-effective and strategic places.

This, he said, will see them manage costs, settle debts and optimise cash flow.

"We also remain focused on executing key initiatives to drive improved performance in an effort to strengthen our capital structure to support the business going forward," he added.

As part of its recovery strategy Uchumi has also announced that it is in the final discussions with a potential buyer of its Kasarani land.

"The sale of the Kasarani land is a step towards restoring the business to a sustainable level as we continue to pursue more long-term initiatives that will lead to profitability," Mohammed said.

The retail chain posted losses of Sh895.12 million in the half year ending December 31, 2017, a 63.55 per cent increase from a loss of Sh547.3 million made by the cash strapped retailer within the same period in 2016.

According to its half year unaudited financial results announced on Thursday, the firm's total expenses dropped 15.52 per cent to Sh1.04 billion.

Uchumi's total expense stood at Sh1.23 billion at a similar period in 2016. The directors did not recommend the payment of an interim dividend to its shareholders for the audited period.

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In December 2017, the retailer restocked 19 out of its 20 branches across the country with hopes of leveraging on the festive season to register profits.

Uchumi managed to cut losses by a margin of 39 per cent in the year to June 2017. Julius Kipng'etich, its immediate former CEO, was expected to resurrect the retailer when he joined Uchumi in 2015, but left early this year for Jubilee Insurance, leaving the retailer high and dry.

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