NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – Barely a year after being poached from Naivas Supermarkets to be Uchumi Supermarkets Chief Operating Officer, Willy King’ara is back at Naivas.
Speaking to Capital FM Business King’ara says the Uchumi business needs stability rather than growth.
“I was hired for growth, but the business doesn’t need growth right now, it needs stability sooner rather than later,” King’ara said.
He said that the government needs to pump in more money to the retailer with time being of essence.
“It’s a ticking time bomb, the sooner they reinvest in the business the better,” he explained.
The major issue according to King’ara is suppliers not stocking goods due to debts the retailer owes them.
He however has faith in the current Chief Executive Julius Kipng’etich.
“Kipng’etich is doing a good job. The suppliers were not being paid by the previous management, though they are coming back, they are still finding it hard to supply, that’s why the business needs government support,” he added.
King’ara is an economics graduate from the University of Nairobi and has previously worked at Tusky’s Supermarkets where he spearheaded its expansion and rebranding among other roles.
Last month Uchumi Supermarkets’ suppliers agreed to an out of court settlement with the retailer and to convert Sh1.8 billion which is part of Sh3.6 billion owed to suppliers into equity.
Some suppliers had moved to court seeking orders to wind up the troubled giant retailer for failing to service debts.
The deal also saw the suppliers commit themselves to be supplying Uchumi with new stock.
In March 2016, the retail chain closed operations in five outlets within Kenya as part of its reorganisation process that saw about 253 workers lose their jobs.
The branches include Taj Mall, Embu, Eldoret Sugarland, Nakuru and Kisii to reduce the retailer’s operational costs enabling it to concentrate its efforts on a leaner structure as dictated by the current business environment.
The move came months the firm closed its operations in Tanzania and Uganda in a reorganisation exercise intended to stop financial haemorrhaging.