2020 was a tough year for Africa’s largest supermarket chain. It’s early in a new year, yet the South African retailer continues struggling to shelve its problems.
While a widespread boycott hasn’t allowed the company catch a break in Namibia, there is fresh trouble in East Africa. In Kenya—the same country ShopRite has decided to abandon—the retailer is being made to stay put until a legal battle is finalized.
At the business end of last year, the firm revealed that it’d be pulling the plug on the Kenyan market because cracking it has somewhat proved impossible. 2020 was a hectic year for the business, as that was also when it announced its plans to retreat from Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.
While ShopRite hasn’t quite yet shut the door on the Kenyan market to head back home, it might have to stay for longer. The retail giant is being charged to court by a customer—Justice Anthony Mrima—who has ruled that the the firm shouldn’t leave the nation until things are mutually resolved.
As the story goes, Justice had a severe mishap in one of the supermarkets, where a stack of plastics fell on him while shopping. The customer reportedly suffered head injuries and intense pain after the incident transpired at the outlet’s branch at Garden City Mall, Nairobi.
Having heard his case, a local judge has restrained ShopRite from selling, transferring or finalizing any assets of its business. Meanwhile, the determination of the case is still being decided.
Though ShopRite’s Nigerian detachment is yet to officially happen since an exit strategy appears to still be in the works, one might expect it should have completely closed up shop by now. Kenyan retail is known for a handful of grim stories, from the fall of Nakumatt to the debt sink of Uchumi.
In September, Deacons East Africa—a fashion brand that has operated in East Africa for up to 60 years—started selling off its assets. Turning the business around has proved difficult. The struggle stories don’t spare Choppies, a grocery and merchandise retailer.
Though a complete exit from the Kenyan market is yet to happen, the retailer’s 4 outlets in Mombasa, Karen Branch, Westgate Mall, and Garden city have been decommissioned. Hundreds of jobs were shed in the process.
Well, there’s no official word as to whether a former player like Nakumatt is finally out of business since another financial scandal surfaced for the company in the middle of last year.
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