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How death of supermarkets has ruined thousands of lives



All under one roof and in five minutes on a Tuesday marked by uncertain weather, creditors voted to dissolve what was once East Africa’s biggest supermarket. Nothing could lift the gloom. Not even the elegiac Swahili gospel song asking God to “show His face” that was playing in the background during the voting process.

Nakumatt Supermarkets died that day last week at Oshwal Centre, smack opposite the uncleared rubble of Nakumatt Ukay, one of its iconic branches that was brought down by bulldozers in 2018 for standing on riparian land.And most of the creditors, who are owed Sh38 billion, who voted for liquidation might just walk away empty handed, their investment forever buried.

The creditors, made up of among others suppliers, landlords and banks, huddled together in groups, their whispers drowned by music.

Some, with the final audit report tucked under their armpits, ached for re-assurance from the court-appointed administrator, Peter Kahi, of PKF.And when Kahi lifted the metal box – popular with boarding school students – to signal the end of the voting process, 92 per cent of the creditors had agreed to liquidate Nakumatt.

The hopeful still believed they would get back some cash after the winding up, numerous others boycotted the vote.Atul Shah, the founder and managing director of Nakumatt, was nowhere in sight as majority of the creditors demanded that he and the other directors be investigated and a forensic audit done to find out if they had transferred the supermarket’s properties to themselves.

Kahi reported that Shah and his son received unsecured and interest-free loans totalling Sh1 billion from the business, which they were yet to repay and that the family owns 11 buildings and property worth Sh3.7 billion.

The Nakumatt fiasco once again brought to the fore the precarious nature of Kenya’s retail business, where success is eyed with uncertainty.

READ ALSO:   Carrefour’s Kenya sales hit Sh14bn

Retail is a ruthless business, competitive and unforgiving when mistakes are made. Thousands of livelihoods have been ruined by it.At least three big supermarket brands have exited the Kenyan market in five years including Ukwala, Choppies and Ebrahims.State-owned Uchumi Supermarkets is hanging by a thread and staring at an imminent death.

The retailer spent a better part of 2019 pleading to have part of its multi-billion debt forgiven to enhance its survival chances.In March, Uchumi filed a creditors plan in the High Court laying down steps needed to save it from collapse.

It owed suppliers over Sh3.6 billion and lenders Sh3 billion.Once thriving fashion and clothing retailer Deacons East Africa was also put under administration in 2018, and exposes creditors to a potential loss of Sh1.9 billion.At the same time, others seem to be flourishing and are in an expansion wave.

Last year, mid-tier Quickmart opened its 11th store on Waiyaki Way, and a looming merger with Tumaini can only create a mammoth retailer.Naivas has also emerged as Kenya’s supermarket king in terms of floor space, especially after it acquired the assets of six Nakumatt branches at Sh422.5 million.It now has over 60 stores, and outbid Tuskys, Chandarana and Quickmart by over three times to scoop up some of the best performing Nakumatt branches.Some multinational supermarkets led to by Carrefour appear to have hacked the Kenyan market.

Carrefour, which has seven branches, last year announced additional expansion plans while targeting to be Kenya’s top two retailer.South African retailers Shoprite and Game Stores also found a home in Kenya with three branches each.

However, Botswana retailer Choppies struggled in Kenya (as well as other markets) and is looking to write off Sh1.6 billion from its local unit.It bought a 75 per cent stake in Ukwala for Sh1 billion as a launch pad but last year shut some outlets, and has announced plans to shut down operations in Kenya.

READ ALSO:   Carrefour’s Kenya sales hit Sh14bn

The action prompted employees of Choppies to file a suit in court claiming Sh25 million in redundancy dues.The Kenya Union of Commercial, Food and Allied Workers wanted the Employment and Labour Relations Court to order the payment for 543 workers declared redundant after the closure of 12 stores.

But what ails the retail sector?

Kahi, the Nakumatt administrator, admits that retail is a tough business largely due to low margins.“The retail market is quite challenging; the margins are very low, that’s why you see them expanding so that they do volumes,” he said.

Giving an example of Nakumatt, he said that the fallen retail giant that once boasted of more than 60 stores spread out across the region “bit more than it could chew.”Kahi, who is also the administrator for Deacons, said Nakumatt’s aggressive expansion was fuelled by debt – money owed to suppliers, which proved “catastrophic”.

“In my own estimation as an accountant, this problem started in 2013. It (Nakumatt) looked healthy on the ground but things were not working,” he said.“They expanded, but were using supplier money creating more debt to the company which cannot be sustainable in the long run.

”Nakumatt also collapsed without any assets, which could have been sold to pay off creditors. Kahi said this scenario was true for its competitors, who mostly ride on their brand names.“All these supermarkets don’t have any assets, only the brand name,” said the administrator. He said that even the trolleys and shelves in Nakumatt had been leased.

“They were just trading on the brand. The stocks were not theirs, most were on consignment.”“That’s a lesson; if at least it had own assets, it could be salvaged. (Others) like Uchumi claim to have their own assets and, faced with problems, they can sell it off to use as collateral or get additional funding. That’s why you see their debt is not that big,” he said.Kahi said Nakumatt ignored the early signs of danger and started doing independent business reviews when it was too late.Suppliers were the most affected by the collapse. They are owed Sh18 billion and their only reprieve is through a 46 per cent VAT refund they will get after liquidation of the supermarket.

READ ALSO:   Carrefour’s Kenya sales hit Sh14bn

Kimani Rugendo, chairman of the Suppliers Association of Kenya, which represents more than 1,500 members, said Nakumatt owed his juice-manufacturing firm Kevian close to Sh100 million and called for a forensic audit.“I still don’t believe all these billions really went into a loss as it was declared,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying on Tuesday.

“It is an inflated loss, a man-made loss, and we should know where they took all the money.”“Our hope has been for a revival and to get at least our money back in the long run, at least 80 per cent,” said Rugendo.Staff will also be greatly affected. The administrator will only pay back wages for four months capped at Sh200,000 once the liquidation is done.

However, commercial paper holders will not get a dime of the Sh4 billion owed to them.Kahi noted that the new laws enacted last year to ensure that retailers paid suppliers within 90 days would greatly help.“Suppliers are the biggest losers when these things (retailers) go under. Banks are lucky because they are secured and can recover at least 80-90 per cent of their debt. The suppliers’ only avenue is through tax refunds,” he said.

by Standard

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Full list of journalists fired from NTV Kenya



News emerging from Nation Centre indicates that some of the country’s top journalistic talents have been fired.

A list exclusively seen by showed eight renowned reporters and anchors whose terminations took effect on Friday July 3, 2020.

Among those fired are Brenda Wanga (news reporter), anchor Debarl Inea, Sharon Baranga (reporter) and Shaban Ulaya (sports reporter)who have been with the media house for years

Others on the list are Harith Salim (swahili anchor), Lillian Kiarie (business reporter), Silas Apollo (news reporter) and Ken Mijungu who had confirmed his departure from NTV earlier in the day.

Journalists (from L to R) Harith Salim, Lillian Kiarie, Silas Apollo and Shaban Ulaya who have been fired from NTV
Journalists (from L to R) Harith Salim, Lillian Kiarie, Silas Apollo and Shaban Ulaya who have been fired from NTV

NMG CEO’s message

A memo by the Nation Media Group’s CEO Stephen Gitagama earlier in the week had outlined that the media company is keen to retain only those with the relevant skills and expertise.

“The Group seeks to radically change its business model from print advertising and physical reader copy to digital advertising, ePaper subscription and content-driven reader revenue with the objective of establishing leadership in the mobile publishing landscape in Africa while exploring other new revenue streams in the experiential and technology space.

“This will require retooling and resourcing the Group with relevant skill sets critical for success in the new business environment. Regrettably this will result in reduction of our workforce effective Friday July 3, 2020,” the memo read in part.

READ ALSO:   Carrefour’s Kenya sales hit Sh14bn
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VIDEO: Turmoil, panic at Nation Media Group as hundreds receive termination letters



Mass lay-offs at Nation Media Group began Thursday in earnest with preliminary reports indicating deep cuts touching on a number of senior editors and managers.

Reports  paint a ruthless restructuring that will leave Nation Centre numb for some time.

Long-serving and one of the most recognizable NTV news anchors, Ken Mijungu was among the first people in the Broadcasting Division to be shown the door.

Today, the process started with the newspaper section, where 40 journalists are targeted, and management before it moves to NTV tomorrow. The big casualties so far  include Nation Newspaper Division Managing Director Francis Munywoki, partnerships & projects manager and long-serving education editor David Aduda, Business Daily Managing Editor Ng’ang’a Mbugua and Daily Nation News Editor Francis Wanyonyi Wambilianga.

Twin Tower bloodbath

Also picked on the first day of staff reorganization are editions editor Mark Agutu, agriculture editor Julius Sigei, Gabriel Chege of IT, Veronica Chirchir (HR), output editor Joe Mbuthia, Martin Mwangi (Deputy Chief Sub Editor) and Revise Editor Henry Gekonde. Nancy Ogutu, Peter Choge and Momanyi Maosa from the online department/ Nation Digital have also been shown the door.

David Aduda, who previously worked as editorial manager, is among editors who have negotiated an exit package through which they will be contracted to offer critical editorial services under NMG’s new outsourcing model.

Others are George Omondi (Business Daily, Section Editor) and Eldoret regional editor (bureau chief) Jeremiah Kiplagat. Ng’ang’a Mbugua was among editors who got promoted in January 2019, moving from Daily Nation to Managing Editor of Business Daily. Joe Mbuthia had been hoisted Production Editor/Head of Production to output editor.

Peter Choge together with Momanyi Maosa are said to have been on contracts as online sub-editors which expired and have not been renewed.

In Finance, Alex Shikami, a Senior Internal Auditor, has been kicked out. Munywoki joined NMG in November 2017 from Standard Group and had been hoped to reengineer the newspaper section to make it more profitable. Instead, the newspaper division, NMG’s flagship and cashcow, has been losing business by the week, cutting revenues and profitability.

The 40 editorial staff will continue receiving their letters up to next week. It is understood that some of people affected, especially younger ones, will be recalled starting August to work on contracts, according to discussions in yesterday’s zoom meeting. The Group is targeting to lay off over 100.

Curiously, most affected employees are male, online with NMG Group Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu’s promise, last year, to “protect ladies” as much as he could, someone familiar with this assertion told BT.

READ ALSO:   Carrefour’s Kenya sales hit Sh14bn

Interesting changes are on the newsdesk. Inside Nation Centre rumors last year were that the newsdesk was dominated by Luhya editors. It’s not clear whether this happened by design or coincidence. A plan, it seems, was crafted to correct that anomaly and enhance ethnic balance on the desk. The desk has so far lost Bernard Namunane, Peter Leftie (who has since returned to The People), Lucas Barasa (now with Mandera County Government), and now Wanyonyi Wambilianga, all from the Luhya ethnic extraction. Wambilianga is said to have fallen out with Daily Nation Managing Editor Pamela Sittoni.

Now Harrison Misiko remains the only editor from the Luhyia community on the desk, although he is an assistant news editor. With Wambilianga’s exit the newsdesk has been left with only Misiko, after Dave Opiyo landed a job as Director Communications at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in April this year.

The NMG editorial leadership was forced to recall Misiko who was working from home, early today, to come and man the desk, after Wambilianga was laid off.

The management says it is re-engineering the Nation Media Group to accelerate its digital transformation. In this new model, it will utilize technology more and cut down on human resource.

Those affected will receive counselling support, while those stationed outside Nairobi will be offered relocation assistance. Also, the laid-off staff will receive medical cover for a period of two months until August 31, 2020, in a rare show of magnanimity.

Thereafter, the company has negotiated a medical insurance scheme through its current provider which those affected may opt to individually join.

The layoff comes at a very tricky time when most media houses are offloading employees to survive the Covid-19 pandemic disruption. Already Mediamax has sent home nearly 100, while Royal Media Services is restructuring in a low-profile style. Standard Group is waiting for the whistle.

Small is beautiful

Suddenly, small is beautiful for a big media house with operations across East Africa.

NMG, hoping to ride the tech wave made more popular by stay-at-home protocols for stemming the spread of Covid-19, is betting big on mobile delivery of its journalism products and advertising. “This new reality necessitates the reengineering of Nation Media Group to accelerate its digital transformation,” the company’s CEO Stephen Gitagama said in a circular to staff on 1st July 2020.

“In this journey, the group seeks to be innovative, agile and adaptive with the objective to take up leadership in the mobile publishing landscape in Africa while passionately living our mission to positively transform society, by creating new value and generating quality, differentiated and engaging content to consumers, however, wherever and whenever they need it.”

READ ALSO:   Carrefour’s Kenya sales hit Sh14bn

The company will be concentrating its investment and human resources on new areas critical for growth. Inevitably, this will result in merging and scrapping of some sections which will in turn lead to a reduction of its workforce. “This is an extremely difficult decision in view of the prevailing circumstances,” he said.

Insiders say the company is targeting to offload more than 100 employees across its operations in East Africa, though Kenya will bear the biggest shave. Mr Gitagama says the exercise will be carried out with utmost due respect to our employees and within the Kenyan laws. “We will strive to provide all the necessary support to help them manage the transition,” he said.

Moving to Mombasa Road

Nation Media Group operates print, broadcast and digital media outlets in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania, with operations in print, broadcast and digital media.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has destabilized most businesses globally, including in Kenya. Many companies have either shutdown or substantially scaled down operations due to the drastic decline in revenues. The media industry in the country has severely been impacted.

NMG will be permanently adopting a work-at-home model implemented in March to ensure social distancing at the workplace, where a section of its workers have been working away from the office permanently.

Having some workers sacked and others working from home will reduce pressure on office space, allowing it to cut down on rent at the iconic Nation Centre, owned by its sister company Property Development Management (PDM). The board and management are considering moving the NMG offices from the city centre to its Mombasa Road printing press premises.

While a financially prudent move, working from home and away from the city centre comes with its share of challenges. Standard Group tried the out-of-town model but was forced to relocate back to the CBD after experiencing delays in getting to story subjects and press conferences. Working at home might spring coordination issues especially for reporters who are required to be ever mobile.

The media industry is keenly watching how the virtual office model will be implemented by NMG and which, indeed, it will cut cost and enhance its mobile transformation.


Nation Media Group

Media of Africa for Africa

To All Staff-NMG Kenya 1st July, 2020


Dear Colleagues,

I trust you are keeping well and staying safe while observing the Ministry of

Health protocols on prevention of COVID-19 pandemic.

In my last communication, | stated how the COVID-I9 pandemic has resulted in global uncertainty and unprecedented challenges impacting most businesses adversely. As you are aware, many companies have either shutdown, substantially scaled down operations or re-engineered themselves due to the drastic decline in revenues. Globally, the media sector has not been spared by the pandemic and media houses including NMG, having been severely impacted.

READ ALSO:   Carrefour’s Kenya sales hit Sh14bn

During this period, management has undertaken several cost-saving interventions to enable business continuity, ensure sustenance of livelihoods of staff and their dependents and continue delivery of services to our customers. However, despite taking these key actions, the business has continued bearing the brunt of the pandemic.

In view of the current adverse impact on business performance, the temporary salary reduction will be extended to 31 December 2020. This unavoidable action will be reviewed depending on the company’s performance and as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Individual letters will be sent to the affected employees.

Further, this new reality necessitates the re-engineering of NMG to accelerate the Group’s digital transformation. In this journey, the Group seeks to radically change its business model from print advertising and physical reader copy to digital advertising, ePaper subscription and content-driven reader revenue with the objective of establishing leadership in the mobile publishing landscape in Africa while exploring other new revenue streams in the experiential and technology space.

This will require re-tooling and resourcing the Group with relevant skill sets critical for success in the new business environment. Regrettably, this will result in a reduction of our workforce effective Friday, July 3, 2020.

It is an extremely difficult decision in view of the prevailing circumstances and we understand the impact this will have on those affected and their families. The exercise will be carried out with utmost respect to our affected colleagues and in adherence to the Kenyan labour laws. We will strive to provide the necessary support to help exiting staff manage this difficult transition.

We have made special arrangements for those affected to receive counselling support. Colleagues stationed outside of Nairobi who are affected will be offered relocation assistance. The affected staff will receive medical cover for a period of two months until August 31, 2020. Thereafter, the company has negotiated a medical insurance scheme through its current provider which those affected may opt to individually join.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak with your line manager or contact Human Resources Department.

Stephen Gitagama


Nation Media Group

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Trouble for Ex-MP Mustafa Idd who works with wife at State agency



Former Kilifi South MP Salim Mustafa Idd could be kicked out of the Coast Water Works Development Agency board over allegations of nepotism.

This is after a civil society group on Wednesday filed a case seeking for the revocation of his appointment over conflict of interest in the management of the State agency.

According to the petition filed by the Commission for Human Rights and Justice, Mr Idd, who is the current chairman of the water agency, is serving in the same board with his wife Amina Mnyazi.

The lobby group says that this arrangement breaches Section 8, 9 and 10 of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act that deals with public appointments.


Also, the petitioner says that the appointment, where the two are serving in the same board, breaches Section 19 of the Leadership and Integrity Act, Section 146 of the Companies Act, and Section 66 of the Water Act.

Through its executive director Julius Ogogoh, the civil society group says in a matter filed under a certificate of agency that the two cannot be allowed to serve on the same board due to conflict of interest.

“In the public domain, a man and his wife cannot preside over the same public and State agency with the same mandate without the real likelihood of conflict of interest,” says the petitioner.

READ ALSO:   Carrefour’s Kenya sales hit Sh14bn

Mr Idd and Ms Mnyazi were appointed as chairman and member of the board respectively by the Ministry of Water in February 2019 to serve for a period of three years.


But during the term of the appointment and service, the petitioner says the two contracted a marriage and are now spouses and living as husband and wife.

Mr Ogogo says in the petition that the two have failed to adhere to a requirement that every public official shall at all times take measures to avoid any conflict of interest in relation to any public engagement.

“As a consequence of the said marriage ,Mr Idd cannot, without impropriety and public trust, preside over board meetings and make impartial decisions which are above the test and leadership and integrity as there is conflict of interest between his family and the public at the board,” said Mr Ogogoh.

The group now wants the court to issue an order stopping the State Corporation Advisory Committee from authorising payment of all claims of mileage of the two and any other payment pending the hearing and determination of its case.

At the same time, Mr Ogogoh wants the committee and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission ordered to commence investigations into the affairs of the board, particularly the false claims on mileage by the two and file their findings in court within two weeks.

READ ALSO:   Carrefour’s Kenya sales hit Sh14bn


“Pending hearing and determination of this case, a conservatory order be issued against the respondents prohibiting them from discharging their duties at the State water agency,” said Mr Ogogoh.

The activists also want Mr Idd and Ms Mnyazi to resign and refund all the sitting allowances they have been paid from public coffers while breaking the law on conflict of interest.

The two, the petitioner say, ought to have declared their relationship after being appointed to the State corporation as required by law.

“The petitioner prays that an order be issued that all allowances, stipends and salaries earned and paid to the two be refunded to the exchequer with effect from the marriage or appointment,” the petition reads.

In its court papers, the civil society group is accusing the two of failing to disclose or declare their relationship hence want them to resign.


In a supporting affidavit, Mr Ogogoh is also seeking temporary orders restraining the two from sitting in the board meetings until the complaint against them is heard and concluded.

Having been appointed as the chairman of the agency, the petitioner says Mr Idd became obligated to observe and uphold all tenets of good governance and code of conduct governing public bodies in relation to transparency and accountability to avoid conflict of interest in directing, management and administration of the State corporation.

READ ALSO:   Carrefour’s Kenya sales hit Sh14bn

“Contrary to the above expectation and being obligated to act as such, Mr Idd and Ms Mnyazi have turned the said State agency into a family enterprise as they are now married,” said the petitioner.


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