Botswana-based Choppies snaps up Uchumi’s Rongai space

Choppies outlet in Nakuru. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Botswana retailer Choppies is expanding to Ongata Rongai, taking over the space previously occupied by Uchumi Supermarkets #ticker:UCHM.

Choppies will be joining Tuskys, Tumaini and Cleanshelf in the race to capture the populous Rongai as part of its Kenya expansion plan.

In its second half for 2017 results, the retailer indicated that it would invest Sh237 million ($2.27 million) on new Kenyan stores.

Uchumi’s branch in the town was shut down following a Sh21 million default on rent.

Choppies also opened a new store in at South Field Mall in Embakasi, Nairobi and plans another in Kiambu Mall, on the outskirts of the capital city, taking up space that was previously meant for Nakumatt.


The retailer has also put up ‘coming soon’ signs in Nanyuki as it eyes the space that hosted Nakumatt, before the latter was evicted from Cedar Mall.

Choppies’ move to replace Uchumi replicates similar actions by Naivas, Carrefour and Tuskys who have stepped in to occupy spaces from which the financially-strapped retail chains Nakumatt and Uchumi have been kicked out.

The spirited entry into Kenya by multinational chain stores is stiffening competition, pitting new players against the local family-owned retailers.

The South Africa and Botswana-Choppies in March last year said it would spend $2.5 million (about Sh250 million) in refurbishing the eight branches of Ukwala Supermarkets, which it took over in December 2016.

It currently has 12 stores in Kenya.

One time leader Nakumatt, now in administration, and cash-strapped Uchumi, have shut several of their branches in Nairobi while Tusky’s, with 63 stores, recently shut its Sheikh Karume branch in Nairobi.

Naivas has 45 outlets.

Choppies managed to enter the Kenyan market through acquisition of Ukwala Supermarkets in 2016 after a Sh946 million claim by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) had earlier halted the deal.