The unknown business victims of Nakumatt supermarket downfall

Nakumatt holdings is a pale shadow of itself, its once full shelves teeming with all variety of brand new goods ‘all under one roof’ are now empty.

Nakumatt Supermarket was at the height of its operations, East Africa’s biggest supermarket chain with more than 60 outlets spread across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Its once full shelves, teeming with all variety of brand new goods ‘all under one roof’ are now empty. Its stores, which were strategically located across the region are now shut after the retailer was kicked out due to rent arrears.

Creditors, including landlords and suppliers have moved to court in recent months seeking to wind up the business due to non-payment of debts currently estimated at 20 billion shillings ($193 million).

The company recently filed for administration at the high court in a bid to stave off creditors, a move its are fighting against as they seek to reclaim what is owed them.

And while it remains to be seen whether ongoing efforts to resuscitate the retail giant, including a proposed merger deal with Tuskys will bear any fruits, several silent victims  of the demise are struggling .

Just like when the US sneezes and the rest of the world catches a cold, Nakumatt's sick 'Jumbo' is affecting other players in Kenya's retail sector.

That is exactly what is being witnessed at the Galleria Mall.

Located on the outskirts of Nairobi City within the leafy suburbs of Karen, it housed one of the largest outlets of Nakumatt, bringing in hundred of customers everyday to the Mall and its tenants.

That situation has changed since Nakumatt exited the mall.

Human traffic is now down to a trickle, leaving several stalls in a daily struggle to make sales.

Florence, an attendant at Planet Yogurt,an ice cream franchise with an outlet at the mall says the exit of Nakumatt has impacted their business negatively.

“Sundays is always our best day and when Nakumatt was booming we used to make as much as Sh200,000. Nowadays business is bad. We have very few people coming to our store which has negatively impacted our sales. We make about Sh100,000 – 90,000. It is really bad” she said.

The same sad story repeats itself at Bikers and Sports Limited stall, just a few meters away where it is all quiet.

“Business is bad” , a shop attendant tells Business Insider SSA.

Big establishment chains like Text Book Center ,despite being in the market for years are also feeling the pain.

“Compared to when Nakumatt was booming ,families would come to shop and then hang around the mall you know relaxing and having fun and then remember ooh I need a book and pop into our store. The number of walk ins has subsided and affected our business, at least for us we are located at several other places around the city and so the impact is not that bad but other stores inside here are struggling” , a Textbook attendant divulged.

With Christmas a couple of weeks away, Bianco Nero a clothing store at Galleria Mall would be doing brisk business but with the exit of Nakumatt business is slow.

“We still open business at 10am – 7pm like we used to do in the past but we are not doing half the business we used to do when Nakumatt was profitable. On a good day we used to make as much as Sh100,000 but nowadays a whole day can end without a single client stepping into our store. We really hope the situation can be solved soon and even another supermarket can occupy the space” Ifrah, an attendant said.

Alice, an hair stylist at Extreme Styling Studio used to serve up to ten clients  a day but now she can only do between three and five if she is lucky.

Nakumatt's downfall is however not responsible for all the slow business at Galleria mall, that culprit is found a few blocks from the Galleria mall.

The Hub Karen, a mixed use complex set on 20 acres in the heart of Karen has also seen a huge chunk of clients shift there.

Since opening its doors on Feb 2016, the 35,000sqm gross area mall has won hearts of Kenyans with its extensive and diverse stores featuring retail, offices, medical, wellness centre, food courts, and play courts to mention just but a few.

*Since this article was published, Nakumatt at TRM Mall closed shop and Carrefour moved in, the fate fate befall Nakumatt chainstore at Junction mall where Carrefore also moved in.

"*Nakumatt is currently restocking and Business Insider SSA would keep monitoring the situation and update accordingly.

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