Fall of Big 3: Agony of traders in retail superstars’ demise

A shopper navigates filled-up shelves at Nakumatt Prestige Plaza on Ngong Road in Nairobi on June 29, 2018 during better times for the retailer. File

They were not supposed to collapse. But when they did, the once robust kings of the local retail sector left a trail of expensive tears and went down with more than Sh43 billion of suppliers’ money.

By any estimation, it is a tragedy for many businesses that relied on these supermarkets to survive. The retail chains’ boards and banks have pulled the plugs on the struggling businesses and creditors can only watch and count their losses.

How and why the biggest retail chains in East Africa have collapsed has continued to baffle observers especially after the fast-expanding Nakumatt went down with Sh35.8 billion of creditors’ money. And this is just the debts owed in Kenya, as its Ugandan and Tanzanian operations also left several creditors high and dry.


Is this the end of mega-physical stores? Uchumi and Tuskys are in limbo, too, and could follow Nakumatt anytime — if creditors lose hope of recovering their debts.

Starting today, the Nation brings you the inside stories on how these supermarkets found themselves in turmoil.

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