Nakumatt loses grip on city centre
By Otiato Guguyu | December 23rd 2017
Nakumatt has only two empty branches in Nairobi Central Business District after the national pensions fund closed its prime outlet at Hazina Trade Centre.
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) received court orders to pursue the struggling retail chain for unpaid rent since June 2017.
This came just two months after the Auditor General Edward Ouko told NSSF to resolve challenges facing completion of its Hazina Trade Centre that houses the retailer’s Lifestyle branch.
Nakumatt, which is the anchor tenant at the premises, successfully obtained a court injunction in 2014 stopping expansion works on the building, arguing that it was hampering its business.
“NSSF should take legal action against the tenant (Nakumatt Holdings) to secure completion of the building and safeguard members’ contributions,” said Mr Ouko in his annual report for the year to June 2016.
The shrinking retailer now has 41 outlets from the 64 it held last year after an expansion binge across the East African region.
In the heart of the capital, Nakumatt has shut down branches on Haile Selassie Avenue and Ronald Ngala Street earlier in the year.
Nakumatt’s two other outlets in the CBD, Nakumatt City Hall and Moi Avenue are acutely under-stocked.
Weekend Business visited the two outlets and found them virtually empty without the hubbub of Christmas shopping.
On Thursday, Nakumatt City Hall was almost shut down by employees over pay. Most workers have not been paid since June.
“They were workers who wanted all of us to strike so they tried to close the shop,” an employee told this writer.
The struggling retailer had sought to appoint an administrator that would have allowed them to enjoy a moratorium on enforcement against their assets or evictions by landlords.
After it lost the petition, the retailer’s local and foreign rivals have been rushing to take up the space it had occupied as landlords force the supermarket chain to vacate premises for late or non-payment of rent.
Nakumatt outlets being shut down have seen the brand lose its shine and stock as the landlords seize their property.
Friday, NSSF sealed off the supermarket and clamped its vehicles for recovery of their money. Thika Road Mall (TRM) also attached the supermarket’s goods and equipment seeking to recover Sh51 million in rent arrears.
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