Quickmart opens its 32nd store, more news about other retailer debts

Kenyan supermarket chain Quickmart, which merged with rival Tumaini in September 2019, has now opened its 32nd store in Kenya. The new store is being positioned as its flagship store in the Kilimani, Ngong Road, Lavington and Hurlingham areas of Nairobi. The expansion places more pressure on struggling chain Tuskys, a direct competitor in Nairobi’s outlying suburbs.

The new store, on Nairobi’s Kilimani Road, has a deli section, in-store bakery and meat counter, liquor store and a fruit and vegetables section. Quickmart has also said it will sell some core items such as flour and sugar at wholesale prices as loss leaders.

Quickmart, which was acquired by Adenia Partners in September 2019, announced plans in December 2019 to open six new stores by the end of 2020. At the time of the acquisition and merger of Quickmart/Tumaini, the combined network was 24 outlets overall, of which 18 were in Nairobi (the remaining stores are in Kisumu and Nakuru) – the third largest network in the country.

Last week, the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) put four Kenyan supermarkets on its watchlist following complaints by suppliers. According to a statement from CAK, four supermarkets from a total of 25 monitored have failed meet payment agreements for over 90 days. Three of those retailers had worked out a payment plan with their suppliers to complete the payments within 60 days. The key question is who all these four supermarket chains are. We don’t know.

The last time the CAK publicised supplier debts, the companies with the largest debts (in order) were Nakumatt (exited), Uchumi (effectively exited), Tuskys, Naivas (received significant outside investment and now reportedly paying on time) and Chandarana. We would speculate that Chandarana, whose trading has come under severe pressure from Carrefour in Nairobi, may be one of the four retailers.

Tuskys is one of the retailers in question, however. According to a letter written to Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Tuskys has been struggling to meet its payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The struggling chain has also outlined new plans to make 80 staff redundant, four months since a round of layoffs in February.