New engines in old chases

Carrefour Kenya Sets Up New Shop Where ShopRite Abandoned

By  |  February 25, 2021

Carrefour Kenya is going wild with acquisitions.

The retailer’s newest outlet is at the Westgate Mall, a Nairobi space formerly occupied by ShopRite, the largest retail supermarket chain in Africa.

This new launch marks Carrefour’s 12th store in the Kenyan capital and will serve the residents of Westlands, Parklands and the larger Thigiri area. Moving into this space comes a little over a year after ShopRite severed ties with the Kenyan market.

This development, interestingly, comes on the heels of another which saw the brand fully occupy the Centrepoint Mall space in Diani, the one left behind by Nakumatt Holdings, Kenya’s former largest retail chain.

Botswana-born contender Choppies Supermarket is set to slam the door shut on Kenya’s retail market. Unprofitability is the chief reason for this exit, but legal battles and debt problems further posed threats to its survival.

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The malls at Westgate and Centrepoint are not the first spaces where Carrefour Kenya is picking real estate other retailers left off. Stores previously owned by other strugglers like Uchumi have been taken over in places like Village Market, Junction, Thika Road Mall, Galleria and Sarit Center.

Take the space at Mega along the Uhuru Highway in Nairobi, for instance. The place is now owned and occupied by Carrefour Kenya, but before June last year, it was the property of Nakumatt.

Carrefour Kenya is part of a 37-country franchise owned by Dubai-based conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim—the company CEO’d by the person (Hani Weissis) with the rights to operate the brand in countries throughout countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

It’s unclear what these acquisitions and launches mean for the retail market of East Africa’s largest economy. If the brand has a plan that eventually works out, it won’t be bizarre of it replicated its business model throughout East Africa.

Besides Rwanda, East African countries shoot African retail in the foot, an industry that generated as much as USD 500 Bn in only 2018. Industry insiders blame the problem on the low cost of living in these countries, coupled with their newly found dread for off-shelf shopping.

The Kenyan retail market has proven a hard nut to crack, and Carrefour’s ambitions—whatever they entail—are noteworthy.

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