South African Retailer sets up shop in Kenya

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South African retailer Shoprite has taken over space which was vacated by Nakumatt supermarkets at Westgate Mall in Nairobi, becoming the anchor tenant at the shopping complex. The Shoprite store located at the mall’s ground floor will be the retailer’s first outlet to be opened in Kenya.

The South African retailer, which currently operates in Tanzania and Uganda with a strong presence in Central, Southern and West Africa, also plans to open four outlets in the country next year. They will be located at Garden City Mall in Nairobi, City Mall in Nyali, Mombasa, Waterfront Mall in Karen and at a new mall under construction off Nairobi’s city center dubbed the Beacon.

“We are delighted that Shoprite has chosen to launch in Kenya with the premium Checkers level of fit-out at the Westgate Shopping Mall, and I believe shoppers will be impressed by the quality of this fantastic new store — a real first for Kenya,” said Knight Frank Kenya managing director Ben Woodhams in a statement yesterday.

The store, he said, will occupy 50,000-square-feet and is fitted out to the latest specifications of Shoprite’s premium “Checkers” brand. It will stock packed foods, fresh vegetables, electronics, fast-moving goods, beverages, and groceries.

“The retailer has entered the country to strengthen its position in East Africa, with Kenya being the region’s strongest economy,” said Mr. Woodhams. The SA retailer is setting up in Kenya at a time when local supermarket chains such as Nakumatt and Uchumi continue to struggle with stockouts, rent arrears and delayed salaries for their staff and threats of receivership.

The retail chain’s expansion, however, comes as a positive development in a sector that has in recent months seen a host of retail chains close shop due to mounting debt distress. Nakumatt, until a few months ago the country’s biggest retailer, has been the worst hit.

The former retail giant in East Africa has been thrown out of its former spaces in Meru and Eldoret as well as Thika Road Mall, Junction, Garden City branches in Nairobi over non-payment of rent running into tens of millions of shillings.

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Melissa Daniels
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