NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 16 – Uchumi’s new CEO Dr Julius Kipng’etich has assured shareholders and members of the public that the listed supermarket chain will be stable in the next 100 days.
Kipng’etich who is almost three weeks old on the job says during this period, his management team will focus on ensuring the business is running well which may see closure or relocation of some supermarkets.
“I know there are places where the shops are not in the right places and those are very easy to correct because we are just moving into new rental places. We are looking at Kisumu, Eldoret, Nakuru and Mombasa,” Kipng’etich announced.
He says what has been ailing Uchumi for the last 10 years is not that there is no business, but what he termed as poor governance as well as wrong strategies.
“If you look at all the cycles which Uchumi has suffered from, it’s all about governance. I mean, you buy goods, you put a mark up and you sell, as simple as that. So, a supermarket should never make a loss. The reason it makes losses is either somebody never did the calculations right, poor management skills, or you stole. It cannot be any other way,” Kipng’etich said.
Within the 100 days, he says, apart from relocating and doing away with some of the supermarkets, there will also be change of open hours for some stores which will be announced in a few weeks time.
“In the next two or three weeks, we are going to announce new opening hours for Uchumi shops beginning with our store on Monrovia Street which will be the first to open 24 hours. Ngong Hyper will probably go to midnight among others and so we are working on modalities which we will announce soon,” he said.
His transformational strategy he says, will be in three stages which will include stabilising the company to continue running, reorganization and then focus on growth.
According to him, Kenyans should expect Uchumi to start recording growth in the next six months to one year.
“We are going to have an incredible footprint under a new model. We are going to announce that model in a few weeks and that will increase our footprint in the country, without increasing any significant risk to Uchumi,” he explained.
Kipng’etich says there will also be creation of new company’s separate tagline dubbed ‘King of Fresh’ which is aimed at promoting local fresh products and those from the East African Region.
He was speaking on Wednesday morning during a signing of an MoU with Kenya Power which will see customers pay bills at Uchumi supermarkets tills.
About the past challenges, Kipng’etich says an audit is being done and will in the next two weeks be released to act as a guideline on the way forward.
He says he is optimistic that there is no magic expected to bring Uchumi back to life and its former glory but good governance and right strategy.