Cash strapped Choppies Supermarket has announced plans to leave the Kenyan market, four years after acquiring Ukwala stores for Ksh1 billion.
In an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) with its shareholders on Wednesday, the troubled retailer revealed that it had listed its Kenyan assets for sale and has also classified its 12 stores as distressed.
“Zambia has a steady performance in a volatile economy, Kenya’s distressed business has been identified for disposal. Tanzania and Mozambique are distressed while Namibia is performing as expected. In Botswana there is steady income flow under difficult trading circumstances, South Africa North West business is distressed and identified for disposal,” Wilfred Mpai, Choppies director told shareholders.
The retailer has already shut down two outlets, Kiambu and Bungoma.
The retailer, which took over from cash strapped Ukwala Supermarket, has been unable to maintain the tempo in the Kenyan retail industry, which has seen its cash flow dwindle.
Currently, the retailer headquartered in Botswana is surviving on reduced customer traffic, who are greeted by empty shelves and ‘hopeless’ staffers, reported to have gone for months without pay.
According to a statement by the Kenya Union of Commercial, Food and Allied Workers (KUCFAW) Secretary General Boniface Kavuvi issued in July, Choppies workers have not been paid in full for a long period now.
Choppies was delisted from the Botswana Stocks Exchange and Johannesburg Stocks exchange after it failed to release financial results at the end of June 30 2018.
In May, the board fired the retailer’s CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu following a fallout and reduced profitability for the company which operates in several African countries.
The company had around 260 branches across Africa, but has seen the number reduce drastically to 48.
While venturing into Kenyan market, the retailer hoped to take over the space left by cash strapped Uchumi and Nakumatt Supermarkets, which have closed several branches across the country.
Seemingly the dream could not be achieved, with most Kenyans sticking to locally known brands of chain retailers.