Naivas Supermarket is set be become the first major retailer to open an outlet in Garissa town, in an expansion race that will also see the chain establish a presence in Kisumu and Buruburu.
The retailer will open a branch in the North Eastern town next Tuesday, giving it a first-to-market advantage over main rivals Nakumatt Holdings, Uchumi Supermarkets, Ukwala and Tuskys.
The Kisumu and Buruburu stores are set to open next month, putting the family-owned business in direct competition with rival retail chains.
“Naivas is going to be the first (big) retailer to set up in Garissa town; it is currently served by two local retailers,” said Willy Kimani, the Naivas business development and marketing manager.
The supermarket has leased an 18,000 square feet store from developers who completed its construction in March.
The Garissa store, its 31st branch in the country, will mark a significant shift in the country’s retail sector which has tended to focus mainly on densely populated and economically robust urban areas.
Garissa town, which is towards Kenya’s border with Somalia, has for years been almost synonymous with insecurity, which Naivas says will not dissuade them from expanding there.
“The town is highly populated, for many years (it has) been unexploited not only by retailers but also other service providers,” said Mr Kimani.
While Naivas’ entry into Garissa will see it face almost no competition, its setting up in Buruburu (Nairobi) and Kisumu in August will see it lock horns with its accustomed rivals.
In Buruburu, Naivas is the anchor tenant in an upcoming mall being built on a 7.5 acre piece of land where over 400 NCCK jua kali sheds were demolished last year.
The upcoming branch, which will occupy an entire floor of 46,000 square feet at The Point Mall, will be the first by Naivas in the highly populated estate located in Eastlands area.
Naivas will however have to fight for customers with Uchumi and Tuskys that also have a presence in Buruburu, a competition Mr Kimani says they are looking forward to.
“Even with the two retail chains already present in Buruburu, the area is still heavily underserved and one reason for this is that there is an extreme lack of parking space,” said Mr Kimani, adding that the upcoming mall has numerous parking slots.
Naivas says the opening of the Buruburu outlet will also help cushion its business from disruptions it expects to befall its Donholm outlet once construction of Outer Ring road starts.
Its first store in Kisumu will, however, present it with a different type of challenge since the city is already being served by Nakumatt (two stores) while Tuskys and Ukwala have a store each.
Uchumi also opened shop in Kisumu last month, meaning Naivas will be the last of the country’s five main retailers to expand into the lakeside city.
“I do not think we are late to the market since Kisumu is still growing. More so, we have picked a location that is strategically near the city’s main bus stop,” said Mr Kimani.