Nakumatt Not Closing Down - Sameer Shah Top story

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In short
Nakumatts Operations Manager for Uganda, Sameer Shah, says the supermarket giant is instead streamlining its operations in Uganda in order to increase efficiency and robustness.

Kenyan mega supermarket chain Nakumatt says speculation that it is on the verge of closing its Uganda operations is untrue.
Nakumatt's Operations Manager for Uganda, Sameer Shah, says the supermarket giant is instead streamlining its operations in Uganda in order to increase efficiency and robustness.
Speaking exclusively to Uganda Radio Network, Sameer says the move is to make the chain responsive to trends in the market.
Nakumatt announced that it would be reducing the operating hours at its Garden City branch, the very first in Uganda, from 24 hours to 18 hours. In the new arrangement, the branch will open at 6:00 am and operate till midnight, cutting off six hours.
The announcement triggered speculation that the chain, which operates six branches in Uganda, is likely going to shut down some, if not all, of its operations in Uganda. Speculation has been rife that its Entebbe branch is likely to be the first to close.
The speculation built on the closure last year of operations in Uganda of Uchumi, another Kenyan supermarket chain.
Uchumi, which is now under receivership, is a subject of bilateral negotiations between the Ugandan and Kenyan governments in order to ensure the suppliers and creditors get paid billions of Shillings.
Sameer says while the market is subdued, Nakumatt is not considering closing all or any of its operations but rather streamline them to contain the challenges. He insisted that Entebbe and Bukoto branches will also remain open.
On whether the supermarket sub-sector is not matching the shopping habits of most Ugandans and therefore losing ground to retail shops, Sameer agrees saying that presently the market is tilted in favour of the retail shops.
Sameer adds that the trend is, however, gradually going in favour of supermarkets hinged on a growing young population with high propensity to consume. He says the young demographic grouo, which favours glitzy shopping over retail shopping, is growing and will give supermarkets an edge in future.
According to Sameer, the future of supermarkets, like in many frontier markets, is bright but will need strategic positioning now.
Robert Okello, the head of Students Advancing Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE), an organization that promotes entrepreneurship among young people, agrees with Sameer saying Uganda's young and educated population is a strong market for modern shopping if harnessed.
Okello argues that price differences between the dukas and supermarkets will also play a big role in which shopping sub-sector will be more attractive to Ugandans.


About the author

David Rupiny
In his own words, David Rupiny says, "I am literally a self-trained journalist with over 12 years of experience. Add the formative, student days then I can trace my journalism roots to 1988 when as a fresher in Ordinary Level I used to report for The Giraffe News at St Aloysius College Nyapea in northern Uganda.

In addition to URN for which I have worked for five years now, I have had stints at Radio Paidha, Radio Pacis, Nile FM and KFM. I have also contributed stories for The Crusader, The New Vision and The Monitor. I have also been a contributor for international news organisations like the BBC and Institute for War and Peace Reporting. I am also a local stringer for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

I am also a media entrepreneur. I founded The West Niler newspaper and now runs Rainbow Media Corporation (Rainbow Radio 88.2 FM in Nebbi). My areas of interest are conflict and peacebuilding, business, climate change, health and children and young people, among others."