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Top Tuskys managers resign as firm faces worst cash crunch

By Wainaina Wambu | September 19th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Sacked employees demonstrate in Nairobi pushing to be paid three months salary arrears. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Top managers are leaving troubled Tuskys Supermarkets as uncertainty over its turnaround deepens.

The exiting list includes supply chain managers, branch managers and a top security official over reasons varying from delayed salaries and a bleak future of Kenya’s second-largest supermarket chain.

Some of the workers who were recently sacked, part of the 1,000 retrenched in the recent past, took to the streets yesterday demanding to be paid their three months salary arrears.

The family-owned retailer is sitting on pins and needles due to debt running into billions to suppliers, staff and landlords.

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However, Tuskys Chief Executive Dan Githua said yesterday that the supermarket had received Sh500 million as part of the first tranche of a Sh2 billion credit facility it recently secured from an unnamed Mauritius fund.

This, he said, would partially pay landlords, staff and suppliers. “In particular the first tranche of the supplier’s old debt amounting to Sh321 million has been settled.

In addition, the August arrears for suppliers on the online custodial trading platform have also been settled today,” said Mr Githua. Tuskys further denied that there was an exodus of top officials calling it “normal attrition.” 

A top management executive who recently quit told The Standard that he did so for greener pastures but admitted that the firm was struggling. 

“It was a personal decision. I owe most of my career to Tuskys and if things were 100 per cent I would not have left,” said the former executive. 

Tuskys finances are ran by an acting chief finance officer after the previous one resigned last year. The Standard also established that a senior manager for security and loss control had also recently quit. 

It emerged some branches are operating without managers, but Tuskys dismissed the reports. The 1,000 sacked employees joined Tuskys through Artemis and Amicum, outsourcing companies.

Esther Muthoki, who used to work at the Uthiru branch, said she had been sent home in March and was yet to be paid her terminal dues. This is despite signing the termination letter and clearing from the company. Those sacked include cashiers, shop attendants and back-office personnel.

Ms Muthoki and the others stormed the Artemis offices in Nairobi’s CBD yesterday but were denied access.

Mr Lawrence Mosoi, a human resources manager at Artemis told The Standard on the phone that he “was on leave” and out of the office.

“For six months, I have been told that the HR manager has not been coming to the office,” said Ms Muthoki.

He said it has been back and forth between the Tuskys Head office and the Artemis offices. “Who is our employer? Let them pay us and we part ways,” said Ms Muthoki.

Steve Owiti, another laid-off employee from Ngong said the retailer owed him three months in arrears.

“We wish to advise you that in line with your terms of engagement and owing to the position of our main partner which has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, we are unable to renew your contract or continue your employment and we would wish to release you with effect from 21 August 2020,” reads his termination letter.

Tuskys, which has a store network of 60 across the region, has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for its woes.

It has closed three stores this year and at least five others temporarily shut by landlords who sent auctioneers to distress for rent. 

Covid 19 Time Series

 


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