EDITORIAL: Uchumi Supermarkets a waste of public funds

Uchumi supermarket Ngong hyper outlet. /FILE
Uchumi supermarket Ngong hyper outlet. /FILE

The government’s recovery circus for loss-making Uchumi Supermarkets must end.

The listed retailer, whose share value fell by 80 per cent in two years from Sh5 in 2016 to Sh0.96 last week, owes suppliers Sh3.6 billion.

And it still expects Treasury to pay Sh600 million.

Uchumi 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 in the same period in 2016.

It recently urged the Capital Markets Authority to delay announcing end-year results in anticipation of an unnamed investor. Attempts to attract a US investor last year failed.

The troubles at Uchumi and the implosion of privately held former market leader Nakumatt have opened the door to foreign chains with higher standards — France’s Carrefour, The Game and South Africa's ShopRite have slammed the door on its failed predecessors.

Although it announced a new

team to help restructuring last week, not much is expected, considering past failures.

That's why the government should admit Uchumi has outlived its usefulness and privatise or shut it down. You can't do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

Quote

of the Day: “Christmas is joy, religious joy, an inner joy of light and peace.”

Pope Francis

The head of the Catholic church was born on December 17, 1936.