Retail chain Naivas Supermarket is set to increase its workforce by 450 employees who will be deployed in four of its new branches expected to be operational by December.
The family-owned enterprise has 4,800 staff. The new outlets will be located in Nyeri, Githurai 45, Bamburi in Mombasa and Kisumu.
Mr Willy Kimani, the Naivas business development and marketing manager, said in an interview that the retailer is keen on increasing its footprint nationally.
“We want to reach as many people as possible and enable more growth of our outlets both in areas we have operations including new frontiers. For now, we are mainly keen on expanding our local market penetration,” said Mr Kimani.
Naivas is ranked Kenya’s third-biggest retail chain, but unlike its rivals Nakumatt, Uchumi and Tuskys it has not ventured into neighbouring countries.
Mr Kimani, however, said expansion into the region cannot be ruled out but it’s not a priority for now.
The Kisumu branch is set to be opened in the next two weeks, while the Nyeri outlet will be opened early November concurrently with the Githurai 45 shop. The Bamburi branch will be opened in December.
“We identified both the population and opportunities that can help grow our businesses. We understand there might be competition out there... but competition, provided it’s healthy, is good because it shapes the quality of the services delivered,” he said.
The new venture will cost Naivas Sh270 million which will be sourced from the retailer’s accumulated cash.
“The new branches are purely funded through our own funds and no borrowing is involved,” said Mr Kimani.
The retail market is highly competitive with upcoming retailers such as Maathai Supermarket and G-Mart stepping up turf wars in the sector.
Naivas’ first store in Kisumu is expected to raise competition for Nakumatt, which has two stores in the town. Tuskys and Ukwala also operate in the lakeside town while Uchumi also recently opened a store in the area.
In Nyeri, Maathai Supermarkets controls a sizeable chunk of shoppers while in Githurai 45 Kassmart Supermarket has two branches located at strategic points.
G-Mart, a new entrant in Githurai 45, is a competitor for Nakumatt and is seen as targeting middle class shoppers in the area. Naivas recently became the first major retailer to open a branch in Garissa town.
Nairobi has also lately become a major attraction to small retailers such as Eastmatt and Maathai which, after building financial muscles and loyalty among customers upcountry, are expanding to urban areas in search of new clients.