Nakumatt blames government for its financial woes

The chain CEO cited a number of 'unfriendly and harmful' government directives.

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Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo said government had no plans to come to the aid of Nakumatt since it was a private company unlike its rival Uchumi Supermarkets which was bailed out by government.

“We have no stake in Nakumatt and we are not bailing them out. We also have to consider the moral hazard where we will be encouraging private firms to come to the Government for help,” he told a local daily.

Government holds shares in Uchumi and therefore that explains why it has continued to pump cash into the troubled Uchumi supermarket over the years.

Nakumatt  which at one point was Kenya's largest retail chain is facing imminent collapse and from end of last year it has closed down several branches including laying off hundreds of workers as it struggles to keep afloat and pay suppliers.

Unconfirmed reports also  indicate that Nakumatt is set to close  its westlands, Lavington, TRM, Embakasi, Garden City and New Kitisuru chains as the cash crunch continue to bite.

Mr Atul in his letter to the PS claims the company current financial woes lie squarely on the government shoulders and therefore the Government should extend “goodwill to Nakumatt.In his letter, he mentioned a series of Government actions dating back to 1998, including ban on imported beef suspected to be contaminated with mad cow disease, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) move to issue a Sh1 billion tax demand as well as the demolition of Nakumatt Thika Road branch in November 2008 to pave way for construction of Thika highway.

Mr. Atul also blamed the State for the fire that destroyed Nakumatt Downtown in the Nairobi Central Business District, saying it was caused by repair works on a transformer at Kimathi Street.

The 2013 Westgate Shopping Mall attack by al-Shabaab militants did not escape his mind and he also cited it as having contributed to its current woes as since then shoppers have shunned the outlet.

However the long letter seem not to have convince the state, Mr Kiptoo said Mr Atul’s letter failed to respond to inquiries about the huge debt to suppliers and instead opted to blame the Government for “things that happened a long time ago”.

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