Retail chain Tuskys Supermarket has suspended 91 employees at its Tom Mboya Street store in Nairobi on suspicion of internal theft.
The employees are accused of working with an external cartel that was allegedly clearing goods from the store and later selling them to retail shops in Nairobi and its environs.
Tuskys chief operations officer Peter Leparacho confirmed the suspensions and said the retailer had opened investigations on affected employees.
The retailer has also called in detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to investigate the scam.
Mr Leparacho said the cost of the thefts reported first a week ago had not been quantified.
“The employees including the branch manager have been suspended for two weeks pending investigations whose outcome will determine their fate. We are working with detectives to get to the truth of the matter,” Mr Leparacho told the Business Daily.
The theft was only detected at Tusky’s Beba Beba branch.
Poor performance of the outlet that is located in the central business district triggered the investigations and subsequent audit on its operations.
The management of the outlet failed to explain why some goods were missing from the store and on the shelves yet they had been supplied and the drop in sales at the branch.
The performance of other outlets that had not been doing well yet are located in a prime locations is also set for review.
The supermarket said it has not hired fresh staff to replace the suspended ones but picked workers from existing branches in Nairobi to fill in the gaps.
Mr Leparacho said the suspended employees would not have their salaries deducted as per an agreement entered into with Kenya Union of Commercial, Food and Allied Workers.
Mr Boniface Kavuvi, who is the secretary-general of the union, could not be reached for a comment on issue since his mobile phone was switched off.
The Beba Beba outlet is located opposite Eastmatt Supermarket which took over the premise after Tuskys’ owners disagreed with the landlord over rent increment.
The area near bus termini is a prime shopping point given it attracts a huge population of people entering and leaving town. Tuskys, Ukwala and Eastmatt supermarkets are the only players in the area.
Tuskys, which is Kenya’s second largest supermarket chain by number of stores is a family business jointly owned by five brothers and two sisters
Mid last month, Tuskys new chief executive Daniel Githua sent seven branch managers on early retirement in a reorganisation as the retailer said it was working on injecting new blood to improve performance.
The retailer later advertised for positions of eight senior managers.
During the same period, Mr Githua also transferred 39 branch managers. His appointment as the new Tuskys boss was met with opposition from Yusuf Mugweru, the fourth born in the family, claiming that the family members as well as the retailer’s shareholders were not involved when the decision was made to appoint Mr Githua.
Updated on June 5 at 5.45pm to change the number of suspended staff from 70 to 91.