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Naivas boss leaves after 7 years to start his own retail brand

Former Naivas Chief Operations Officer Willy Kimani is betting on himself after being the the brains behind the rebranding and positioning of both Naivas and Tuskys

Willy Kimani

After seven years, Naivas Chief Commercial Officer Willy Kimani left the company in December 2023.

The news desk has learned that Kimani has launched a new retail brand called Jaza and opened stores in Kayole, Buruburu, and Githurai 44, and is also targeting Gachie and Chokaa areas.

Kimani has a long history in the retail industry, having worked for several leading brands including Target Promotion Kenya, Tuskys, Naivas, and Uchumi Supermarkets.

In his previous role at Naivas, he was responsible for the company’s top-line strategy and oversaw the development and implementation of its marketing and pricing strategies.

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Kimani's journey in the retail and FMCG sector commenced in 2001 at Target Promotion Kenya, where he joined as a trade supervisor while still pursuing his university education.

Within 18 months, he ascended to the position of General Manager while still studying for his undergraduate.

Kimani then found a job as the Business Development Manager at Enkarasha Departmental Store, a subsidiary of Tusker Mattresses Limited, which sold clothes to middle-class and upper-class customers.

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By the time he left Enkarasha in 2010, the business was a preferred store for VIP dressing by State House.

After working for Enkarasha, Kimani moved to Tuskys, which at the time was known as Tusker Mattresses.

He championed the rebranding of Tusker Mattress to Tuskys, catapulting the company into the digital era and introducing the hypermarket and Chap Chap express store concepts.

In October 2010, Kimani joined Naivas and in four years, he took up various roles in marketing, business development, IT and supply chain.

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Kimani faced the challenge of repositioning the supermarket chain from a Tier 3 supermarket to a leading brand. He successfully rebranded Naivas and oversaw the expansion of the store network from 9 to 36 stores.

In 2015, he joined struggling Uchumi Supermarkets as Chief Operations Officer where he served for 10 months before returning to Naivas under the same role.

Kimani was the senior most non-family member at the family-owned supermarket.

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He served as the COO until December 2023 when he left to launch his retail brand.

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