Uchumi Supermarkets plans to expand its branch network from the current 37 to 50 this year.
The retail chain’s chief executive officer Jonathan Ciano said they are optimistic about growth prospects in 2015 and expect customer spending to go up. He noted that the decline in cost of living expected with the reduction in price of fuel and electricity was likely to increase consumer spending.
“We should see growth in the size of the shopping basket as households get more disposable income with the ease in the cost of living,” he said.
The retail chain late last year raised Sh896 million through a rights issue. The money will be used to finance the chain’s growth throughout East Africa. The rights issue had been oversubscribed by 84 per cent, attracting Sh1.64 billion, which Ciano noted was an indication of investor confidence in the oldest retail chain in the country. The new shares started trading on the Nairobi Securities Exchange on January 8.
He said the funds will enable the company grow its branch network in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda and also refurbish existing outlets. “By December, we expect to have 50 branches from the current 37. Most of these are in highly lucrative areas,” Mr Ciano said.
Over the last financial year, the chain opened eight new branches bringing its total branch network to 37 spread out in Kenya (27), Tanzania (four) and Uganda (six). There are plans to open three new branches in Rwanda in the course of this year.
“We have adopted cautious strategic growth approach in the Eastern African region, an initiative that will be fully supported by the proceeds of the rights Issue and the positive effect of cross listing in the EAC countries. Uchumi shares are now trading in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, making us a truly Eastern African company,” Ciano said.
He said this when he announced the winner of a brand new Nissan Almera. The car, valued at Sh2 million, was the grand prize for the Christmas Holiday shopping promotion dubbed Toboa Maisha na Uchumi. Hundreds of Uchumi’s shoppers won more than Sh8 million worth of prizes that included shopping vouchers, school fees, electronic goods and cash prizes.