Uchumi ordered to pay Sarit Centre Sh184m rent

A former Uchumi Supermarkets branch. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Collapsed retail chain Uchumi Supermarkets has been ordered to pay its former landlord at Sarit Centre at least Sh184 million in unpaid rental dues and interest that accrued before the two parties parted ways in 2018.

High Court judge E. K. Wabwoto directed the retailer to pay PBM Nominees Ltd Sh86.3 million plus interest calculated at two percent per month from February 2018.

The retailer owes the landlord Sh98.4 million in interest up to October 2022, with the amount set to go up should the principal claim continue to remain pending.

Uchumi exited Sarit Centre after operating from the prime location for more than 30 years, having been among the mall’s first tenants.

The owners of the building filed the case in 2018, accusing Uchumi of failing to make rental payments, failure to pay the service charge, utilities and special promotion expenses as provided in the sub-lease, among other claims.

“For the above reasons, I have no option but to enter judgment for the plaintiff for the sum of Sh86.3 million together with interest thereon accruing at the rate of two percent per month from February 28, 2018 until payment in full,” Justice Wabwoto said. The Environment and Land Court judge said PBM Nominees through its witness Atul Shah proved that Uchumi breached the lease agreement.

The judge noted that the initial debt stood at Sh147.6 million but Uchumi paid Sh61.3 million after PBM Nominees obtained another judgement in July 2020, leaving a balance of Sh86.3 million.

Uchumi has been struggling to recover, weighed down by billions in debt owed to creditors, suppliers and landlords among others.

The High Court had in 2020 stopped the planned sale of Uchumi’s assets and frozen all pending debt recovery cases, outstanding loans and rent claims against the retailer, in favour of a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA). Under the CVA, the retailer and 121 suppliers were to form a committee and agree on how to settle the Sh4.2 billion debt.

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