Nakumatt in fresh row with landlords

Auctioneers clear away goods at the Nakumatt Nyali Supermarket March 7, 2018. Photo | Kevin Odit | NMG
Auctioneers clear away goods at the Nakumatt Nyali Supermarket March 7, 2018. Photo | Kevin Odit | NMG 

At least four landlords have taken on Nakumatt Supermarkets with multiple suits seeking to evict the retailer, even before expiry of the 60 days grace period offered by the court to afford an opportunity for reviving the fallen giant.

The landlords are either seeking to evict Nakumatt or deny them re-entry into their respective prime malls.

Yesterday the retailer was forcibly evicted from the prime Nyali branch in Mombasa.

Sabaki River Holdings Limited, the owner of Malindi mall, South Coast Holdings Limited which owns Diani Mall, Parkside owners of Galleria mall and GC Retail the owners of Garden mall are in court fighting to evict or stop Nakumatt’s re-entry.

“The applicant requires all its branches to be fully functional in order to restructure itself for the payments to its creditors. I am further legally bound to report a repayment plan to the creditors under the court’s supervision within 60 days…which is impossible if the branches are not re-opened for business,” Mr Peter Kahi, the administrator pleads in court documents.

Mr Kahi claims that the High Court in August 2017 issued orders restraining all creditors from auctioning the assets of Nakumatt or evicting, which was subsequently followed by grant of administration in January which put all the landlords at bay.

He claims that despite the order which is still in force, the owners of Malindi Mall, Diani Mall and Garden Mall have restricted their entry to the premises.

He says that if the premises are not re-opened, then his effort to restructure and refinance the business will be frustrated leading to layoff of 6,720 employees across East Africa and all unsecured creditors.

But Sabaki Holdings and SouthCoast Holdings, through their director Mr Sulltan Khimji have accused Nakumatt of abuse of court process.

Mr Khimji argues that the lease contracts was terminated following default of rent arrears which stands at Sh32 million, arguing that there is no basis on which Nakumatt can ask to be allowed back to the malls.

He says they evicted Nakumatt on November 17, a day after court had dismissed the first application by Nakumatt seeking administrator was dismissed.

He says on that day, there were no order restricting the eviction, noting that by the time application for administration was filed by some creditors which was allowed in January, Nakumatt was no longer their tenant.

Garden Mall owners have also objected to the application on the grounds that the commercial division has no jurisdiction to hear the suit and that the application ought to have been filed at division Environment and Lands court.