Loyal Nakumatt shoppers find solace in Naivas, Tuskys stores
By Joackim Bwana | January 6th 2019
The fall of one of the most renowned supermarket chains in East Africa, Nakumatt, has been a blessing to other retailers stepping in to fill the huge shelves left behind.
With decades-old market leader Uchumi also falling on hard times, thousands of customers loyal to the retailers have been left at a crossroads, wondering which supermarket to turn to.
Suppliers of products likewise have been treading on cautious grounds due to trust issues after the two retailers went down with over Sh30 billion debt.
Nakumatt in the last few years took a deep plunge with debts running into billions of shillings and legal suits that saw it close 17 branches across the country.
However, its exit has seen Naivas, Tuskys and other local supermarkets step up to capitalise on the opportunity by opening shops in locations previously dominated by Nakumatt.
Naivas, with 49 stores, has acquired space previously held by Nakumatt in Mombasa including at Likoni, Bamburi and Moi Avenue.
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The chain has also ventured into mall space by opening up new branches like Mwembe Tayari Mall that was intended to be occupied by Nakumatt before its woes begun.
It is thus pitting itself against Tuskys Supermarket, which has 57 branches across the country.
A survey by Weekend Business reveals that Naivas is attracting a lot of footfall because they have a wide variety of products under one roof and the services are efficient.
Abdul Ismael, a former Nakumatt loyal customer who has since shifted to Naivas, however feels the leading supermarkets are yet to attain the standards set by Nakumatt in terms of stocking and shopping space.
“Naivas are trying their best in terms of services and but they are still yet to fill the gap left by Nakumatt by stocking all goods I want. I still have to switch supermarkets to find some products,” he says.
Mr Ismael said Carrefour supermarket in Nairobi is trying to meet the standards set by Nakumatt.
Carrefour, part of Middle East investment group Majid Al Futtaim, currently operates five stores in Karen, Two Rivers Mall, Thika Road Mall, The Junction, Sarit Centre and Village market.
Audreen Kuria, who also used to shop at Nakumatt, says she now prefers to shop at Naivas because they try to meet her needs by stocking the little things that one will miss in other supermarkets.
“Nakumatt had the ‘You Need it, we Got it’ slogan where they stocked a variety of products that you wouldn’t find in other supermarkets. After its closure, I tried Tuskys but they lack a lot of stuff on their shelves so I prefer to shop at Naivas,” she says.
Edward Boluma says he prefers to shop at Naivas because of the convenient proximity of the supermarket to his way home and the ease to get products on the shelves an experience he said Nakumatt specialised on.
“I shop at Naivas Nyali and Bamburi because of convenience. Both are on my way home and stock a variety of products that are easy to find compared to other supermarkets,” he says.
There are others like William Mahindu who regard Tuskys as their best store because they stock a wide range of commodities and are countrywide.
“I usually shop at Tuskys because I get all the products I want and because the supermarket has stores in every town,” he says.
Naivas Chief Operations Officer Willy Kimani says Naivas is stepping in to fill the shelves by providing shoppers with choices in the range of products they want.
He says Naivas takes a thorough category management survey to understand what their customers need and then stock up as opposed to stocking up everything that remains on the shelves for long.
He said the Nakumatt slogan “You need, it we got it” is expensive.
“’It needs a huge budget and having everything needs strategy. So we give our customers a double choice of what they are looking for at a relative price,” Mr Kimani says.
He says they have taken up most of Nakumatt’s customers especially in Mombasa while Tuskys and Kasu have received a good share in Nairobi and other towns.
“Most of our new customers are from Nakumatt and Uchumi. We have set shop strategically where Nakumatt was, the same move taken by Chandarana who took up Cinemax Nyali,” he says.
According to him, the retail sector has recorded a three per cent rebound in growth after a turbulence that saw the giant supermarkets fold business.
He says the retail market has room for expansion with the modern market operating at 33 per cent and general trade at 57 per cent.
“The market has seen a rebound in growth by three per cent. The modern market stands at 33 per cent while the general trade is at 57 per cent.
This means the supermarkets have an opportunity to triple their shops and we intend to expand,” Kimani says.
He however says competition is steep in the retail market as everyone including ‘Mama Mboga’ competes to ensure they retain their customers.
Though Naivas has no intention of expanding outside the country at the moment, Kimani says they will seek a presence in major malls because of the huge customer traffic.
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