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Shoprite lays off 104 staff with Karen outlet closure

The official opening of Shoprite supermarket
The official opening of Shoprite supermarket outlet at the Garden City in Nairobi on March 21, 2019. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

Africa’s biggest supermarket chain, Shoprite Holdings, will lay off 104 workers after it announced the closure of its Waterfront branch in Karen on the reduced flow of shoppers.

The retail chain, which opened its first store in Kenya in 2018, has informed unions of the closure of the branch and job cuts.

“Endeavour to continue trading at the Waterfront branch is no longer viable,” Shoprite said in a notice to the Kenya Union of Commercial Food and Allied Workers (KUCFW).

“It is envisaged that the extent of the redundancy will impact all employees at the said branch. There are currently 104 persons employed at the branch of which 74 are KUCFW members.”

The closure of the store will put a dent to Shoprite expansion plans in Kenya, where it has three branches and has targeted to open seven stores, including six in Nairobi.

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When setting shop in Kenya, Shoprite said it was taking advantage of the disarray in Kenya’s retail sector that had resulted in the collapse of established supermarkets.

Two of Kenya’s three top retailers were in trouble including Uchumi, which had closed stores and former regional leader Nakumatt — which collapsed, opening the door to chains such as Shoprite and Carrefour.

“Retail in Kenya currently is in total disarray...we could now go in and secure seven premises without paying anything other than agreed rental,” the chain said ahead of Kenya entry.

The closures will hit Karen’s Waterfront Mall where Shoprite was an anchor client identified to pull shoppers to the shopping complex.

“The management of The Waterfront Karen mall is in receipt of a vacate notice by one of our anchor supermarkets, Shoprite Kenya,” said Waterfront Mall — which is owned by the billionaire Muguku family.

“We would like to assure our customers that their shopping requirements will continue to be met through our other grocers, Game supermarket.”

Shoprite, which is 17-percent owned by retail tycoon Christo Wiese, has grown from eight supermarkets in 1979 to a no-frills mass-market grocer with operations in 15 African countries including two stores in Uganda.

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