The regional retailer Nakumatt closed three of its Uganda outlets last week but the remaining stores lack basic products, with many empty stalls and fridges, Uganda Radio Network has established.
The cash-strapped retailer closed stores at Acacia Mall in Kololo, Village Mall in Bugolobi and at Victoria Mall in Entebbe last week. In a statement, Knight Frank Uganda, the property manager of malls that housed the shut Nakumatt outlets said “the supermarket space at these malls will go under redevelopment.” In April, Nakumatt also closed its Katwe branch after it accumulated over 290 million shillings in rent arrears. It’s the same story in neighbouring Kenya where they have been closing underperforming outlets.
Nakumatt has five operational outlets in Uganda, four situated in Kampala and one in Mbarara town. Uganda Radio Network visited Nakumatt flagship store at Oasis Mall, along Yusuf Lule and Bukoto outlet which are half empty.
There are no beverages in the Oasis Mall outlet. For instance, buyers can’t get a 500-millilitre or 300-millilitre plastic bottle of soda in this outlet. There are less than 50 plastic sodas of two-litre volume remaining in this outlet.
When our reporter inquired why there are no beverages, an attendant said, “They have not been bringing them sodas and water for about two months.” Fridges and stalls in the beverages section are empty.
It’s the same story in the food section. Apart from bread, there are no food items in the supermarket. Stalls in the food section are empty. Our reporter was informed that the outlet’s butchery unit was closed months ago.
“Things are bad. We don’t know what will happen next,” an attendant lamented on Sunday at Nakumatt Oasis Mall. “We hear that there is no money and you can’t tell which shop will be closed next.”
On whether workers are paid, another attendant said, “Yes, they pay but things have changed. They don’t pay as they used to do two years ago.”
The only remaining items in Nakumatt Oasis Mall are mainly electronics, furniture and clothes. “They last brought stock here more than two months ago…I think, they bring in bread only and newspapers. That’s all,” an attendant explained.
The situation at Oasis Mall is similar to the one at Nakumatt Bukoto outlet. There are no beverages and food items in this store. Fridges and food stuff stalls are empty. An attendant told URN: “I hear they might close this store next.”
Nakumatt has been sued by a number suppliers demanding payment. Last week, Britania Allied Industries Limited, a leading food and beverages manufacturer sued Nakumatt over unpaid debt amounting to 302 million shillings.
The regional retailer has also been sued by State Minister for Veteran Affairs, Bright Rwamirama and wife Florence Rwamirama, together with Mpororo Group demanding payment of over two billion Shillings in rent arrears. Nakumatt is operating its Mbarara branch at Multiplex Complex which is owned by Rwamirama. The four-storey building is situated on Plot 4, along Buremba Road in Mbarara town.
Nakumatt is a wholly Kenyan, privately held company, owned by the Atul Shah family. In a statement issued last week, Nakumatt boss Atul Shah apologised to the employees, creditors, suppliers and shoppers for the sorry state of affairs at the supermarket.
“We have learnt a painful, humbling lesson. We shall emerge stronger, firmly focused to place Nakumatt high on the continental and global retail map,” Atul said. “Allow me this opportunity to once again express my sincere apologies to all the stakeholders we have let down. I can’t say it enough, but I am sorry and sincerely committed to facilitating the turnaround of Nakumatt, whatever it takes,” he added.