Uproar in Embu as Uchumi supermarket closes branch
By Joseph Muchiri | March 21st 2016
EMBU, KENYA: Uchumi Supermarkets has closed its branch in Embu, sending staff, suppliers and residents into panic mode.
Tens of staff members were stranded on reporting to duty Monday morning only to find doors of the retail chain store closed with just two guards manning the compound.
A poster nailed on the door of the supermarket reportedly authored by the management but unsigned and unstamped tried to give light into the closure.
"We would like to inform you that this branch is now closed from today Monday 21st March 2016, in order to focus on a learner structure as indicated by our current business environment.
"We apologise for any inconveniences that this may cause and we thank you for your unwavering patronage over the years. Your points can be redeemed at any Uchumi branch. Please do not hesitate to call us for any clarification," read the poster.
A staff member who talked on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals claimed they had been given a one-month notice for the supermarket to close only for the management to close it after three days.
The employees expressed concern that their jobs were at stake and appealed to the management to absorb them in other branches.
Jamleck Mugane, a supplier of furniture said the specialty department had provided them a three year contract that ended in December and they continued operating without a contract.
"We were given four hours to remove our stock. We should have been notified within good time to find for space to keep our items. The government has majority shares in Uchumi supermarkets and should have given directions to ensure smooth closing and payment of dues to suppliers," he said.
A resident, Eliud Njiru, faulted the closing of the outlet and urged the government to reconsider the move since the supermarket contributes a lot to the economy of the county.
He said the supermarket provided ready market for fresh produce from farmers in Kirinyaga and Embu counties, created jobs for staff and employment for transporters.
Competition among supermarkets in Embu has stiffened over the years as more set base in the town with the latest being Kasturi and Maathai.
Other older supermarkets in the town include Naivas, Maguna Andu and Jatomy.
Residents wondered why the supermarket closed its branch while it had many customers whereas other supermarkets have been able to penetrate the Embu market in recent years.
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