Tuskys Supermarkets has opened its first specialty clothing store on Nairobi’s Tom Mboya Street, targeting the mass market with its own apparel labels.
The Sh50 million apparel store dubbed ‘Tuskys Essentials’ will stock ladies, mens and kids wear as well as baby clothing and accessories. It will also sell home living products such as bedding and luggage bags.
Tuskys has already designed and customised three of its own clothing labels, where the clothes are manufactured under contract in China for the retailer.
The retailer said it is attracted by the bigger profit margins in clothing and apparel business compared to food and other products sold in supermarket.
“The margins from apparel are higher than from food,” said Tuskys chief executive Dan Githua in an interview.
He said that profit margins from clothing average about 30 per cent compared to six per cent for food.
“Demand for clothing is high and in fact, it has now become an impulse (buying) item,” said Mr Githua at the refurbished store which was acquired from Ukwala Supermarkets.
Tuskys is now in direct competition with clothing and apparel retailers such as Deacons, Woolworths, Jade, Kings Collection and other stand-alone shops.
The clothing line is likely to spin off a fresh wave of innovations in Kenya’s vibrant retail industry. Tuskys also sells other own-labelled products such as grains, pulses and sugar, in-store bakery, fresh milk and water dispensers.
Mr Githua said Tuskys wants to fashion itself as a food and clothes store. It plans to open 20 stand-alone apparel stores in Kenya and Uganda over the next five years.
Tuskys in October 2013 acquired six Ukwala stores for Sh200 million. The move was opposed by the Competition Authority of Kenya which limited the takeover to three stores only, but Tuskys moved to court and won a reprieve to keep all six outlets.
Mr Githua said Tuskys owns three apparel labels: Candy - which caters for children up to 16 years, Prince (boys clothing) and Saints, for clothing and travel items such as suitcases.
He said Tuskys Essentials is designed “to bring high-street trends to the mid and low-end market through ‘competitive pricing’ that will out-class mitumba clothes by delivering quality and the latest designs.”
“We have always targeted the mass market. We intend to drive down prices with larger volumes,” he said, explaining the location of the 25,000 square feet store.
Rival retailer Nakumatt has a special division dubbed ‘Select’ which sells home living products such as towels, bed linens, rugs and carpets, blankets and throws, duvets, pillows, travel bags and home decoration items.
Tuskys introduced Candy kids wear in March 2014 and currently accounts for 40 per cent of the chain’s clothing sales.