Tag Archives: hypermarkets

Carrefour in Kenya

Majid Al Futtaim had grand plans for the Carrefour franchise in Kenya which they have since accelerated as other supermarket chains have encountered financial difficulties. This was revealed at a media session by Majid Al Futtaim managers at their Two Rivers Mall office,  located at their second hypermarket in Nairobi. The company which is the leading operator of malls in the Middle East and North Africa holds franchises for Carrefour stores in 38 countries, including 14 in Africa.

Their Country Manager for Kenya, Franck Moreau said they had an initial target to open 5 hypermarkets and 10 supermarkets within 5 years but that has all changed now. When Majid Al Futtaim decided to invest in East Africa, back in 2012, local retailers like Nakumatt and Uchumi were doing quite well. The took up a 20-year lease at Two Rivers, opened their first Kenya store at the Hub in May 2016, and in the last two months, they have signed on to replace Nakumatt as the anchor tenant at two large malls in Nairobi – at TRM on Thika Highway and the Junction Mall on Ngong Road. 

They operate decentralized hypermarkets with each store doing its own ordering, deliveries, storage, handling, marketing, maintenance, payments, and human resources all at the store sites. The financial aim is to create value and market share while meeting or exceeding budgets, and going by current trends in e-commerce, they target to have 15% of online sales in the next two years.

Majid Al Futtaim operates 220 stores in 15 countries, serving 200,000 customers a day. They plan to reach at 500 stores in 5 years with the “great moments, every day, for everyone” theme through innovation in customer service, being a great employer, and working with local suppliers as they take the hypermarket store and adapt it for different countries, customers and cultures.

For Kenya, 1,000 unique products items are imported by Carrefour to differentiate the stores from other supermarkets, and 29,000 other items are sourced from 650 Kenyan suppliers that they work with. Moreau said 50% of their customers at Two Rivers are from the neighbouring Ruaka area who come to shop at Carrefour for the quality, fresh, and available range of products for different classes. But he added that one unique Kenyan thing was a distrust of ‘promotions’ (buyers think there is something wrong with the products on sale) and they are the only supermarket chain asking suppliers for to give continuous and permanent promotions.

The conversion of malls stores to fit the Carrefour model takes time and large investments which Moreau  estimated was five times more than what other local retailers spent on their stores and that it will take about nine months to convert the spaces they are taking over at the Junction and TRM  to full completion, by which time they will have over 1,100 employees in Kenya.

Nairobi Supermarkets & Mall Moments

It has been an interesting few days in the Nairobi mall and supermarkets space.

It started off with a notice on social media from the Junction, a 26,000 square meter mall stating that Nakumatt had surrendered their space at the mall. Nakumatt was the anchor tenant of the mall which opened in 2004 and now has  115 stores.

But Nakumatt which has been having cash flow and supplier payment issues, and which have all resulted in  most common everyday products like fresh foods and supplies missing from their store shelves, then put out a statement alluding to ongoing talks with the Junction mall and their suppliers with advanced plans to restock their shelves.

Later on the same day Nakumatt got a court injunction temporarily stopping their removal from the Junction and issued another more formal statement about how the Junction management had tricked them and illegally took over their space after they had paid Kshs 20 million, hurting their image in the mind of employees, suppliers, and customers.

Knight Frank who manage the Junction also issued a statement acknowledging the court order, which they would follow, but stating that Nakumatt had signed a surrender on 15th September and then failed in its payment obligations and had not documented a commitment to restock the shelves by the surrender date.

Tuesday also saw an announcement by Majid Al Futtaim that they would be opening their third Carrefour store in Kenya at TRM (Thika Road Mall),  a 28,000 square meter mall on Thika Highway. The space had been surrendered by Nakumatt just two weeks before that. Carrefour operates stores at the Hub in Karen and Two River malls.

The release also contained some interesting stats on suppliers and employment:

– We are looking to stock over 30,000 items at the hypermarket, including fresh produce, groceries, a fresh bakery, and a butchery
– (We) work with over 640 suppliers, local manufacturers, producers, and farmers, which contribute to the overall economic growth in Kenya both directly and indirectly. Only one of the suppliers is foreign.
– The opening of the new branch at TRM will boost the staff employment count at Carrefour in Kenya to 800, with 600 already working at the other two branches located at The Hub in Karen and the Two Rivers Mall.

There has been quite a bit of clamour by customers of Carrefour, which was becoming quite crowded at Karen on month end, to expand.

An equity deal to rescue Nakumatt deal seems to have floundered, and a new announcement about ongoing discussions for a management partnership arrangement  between Nakumatt and a rival supermarket chain Tuskys have not inspired the confidence of supplier and financiers of Nakumatt.

Other believed beneficiaries of Nakumatt surrendering any more stores are expected to be Naivas and Khetia. This week also saw Naivas launched Naivas Pay in partnership with Interswitch. The launch was a Ciata Mall, at their store in a space Naivas took over after it had been previously booked by the management of Uchumi.

Uchumi itself is in the process of concluding a deal to raise Kshs 3.5 billion from a  private equity investor.

Another interesting concept in the supermarket space, is Seven 2 Seven, a franchise of mini market stores that only stock fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and serve as agents of some banks. They are on track to have 100 stores in Machakos, Kajiado, Nairobi, Kiambu, Muranga, Nyeri, Embu, Kirinyaga, Meru and Nakuru counties by year-end.

EDIT November 30 Majid Al Futtaim announced plans to open its fourth Carrefour hypermarket in Kenya, after taking up the anchor tenancy at the Junction Mall on Ngong Road. The new hypermarket will be opened in January 2018.