Eastmatt opens Kajiado branch in expansion race

Customers at the Eastmatt Supermarket on Tom Mboya Street in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE
Customers at the Eastmatt Supermarket on Tom Mboya Street in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE 

Emerging retail chain Eastmatt Supermarket has opened a new branch in Kajiado, hoping to capture clientele in the fast-growing town that is not yet served by its big rivals Nakumatt, Tuskys, Naivas and Uchumi.

The family-owned retailer has rented 30,000 square feet of space, taking up three floors of a four-storied building.

“We identified a business gap in the area,” said the Eastmatt supermarket proprietor Kamau Chege in an interview.

The big retailers have mainly concentrated on opening outlets in Nairobi, major towns and suburbs as well as fast-growing satellite towns among them Ongata Rongai, Kiserian and Kitengela.

The new outlet makes it a total of eight branches under the Eastmatt brand. It has employed 100 workers.

“We are not in competition with big retailers, but we are striving to exploit areas with few market players and increase our penetration both in Nairobi and its environs,” said Mr Chege.

He, however, declined to reveal how much it cost to open the new branch, or the source of his funding.

Eastmatt came into prominence when it acquired space formerly occupied by a Tuskys outlet, the Daima branch along Tom Mboya Street in Nairobi.

The retailer plans to open five more branches by mid next year both in Nairobi and its environs.

“Kajiado town has been on a growth path after its county government made it its headquarter attracting more population, making it a prime destination for both retailers and investors,” said Mr Chege.

Eastmatt started operations in 1990 in Mau Narok as Eastleigh Mattresses. It now has seven branches in Tala, Mwea and Kitengela as well as three city branches in Eastleigh Section III, Mfangano Street, Tom Mboya and River Road.

Maathai Supermarket also an upcoming retailer, is a new entrant in Nairobi focusing on setting up more outlets in the Central Business District after many years of being based upcountry.

Maathai Supermarket is owned by businessman Victor Maina and has stores in Thika, Ruiru, Muranga, Nyeri and Karatina.

Both EastMatt and Maathai Supermarkets are looking to replicate the growth of retailers such as Naivas and Tuskys — which both started as small shops before changing into big retail chains that have attracted buyout interests from global players like Massmart.

Most Kenyan supermarkets are family-owned, employing a model of establishing stores near bus stops, targeting the large number of working-class shoppers using public transport.