Kenya’s retailer Ukwala mulls exiting business over unpaid debts

KENYA – Kenya retailer, Ukwala Supermarkets has applied to the court for the permanent closure of business revealing that it was unable to finance its nearly US$10 million accumulated debts, reports Business Daily.

Ukwala director Vijay Jayantilal Dodhia attributed the fate facing the firm on heavy losses as a result of hard economic times and unfair business competition from other players.

In November 2017, the retailer filed for liquidation informing the court that it was unable to remain afloat after accumulating debts amounting to US$9.28 million against its assets valued at paltry US$0.19 million.

“The company is applying to be liquidated because of its indebtedness and inability to meet its financial obligations to creditors, suppliers, employees and the liabilities far outweigh the assets both fixed and movable,” he said

The court said that it will deliver a judgement on the application of the once top retailer in the country on March 14.

Ukwala has invited creditors who want to support or oppose the application to appear during the hearing of the suit but however, no creditor has so far filed any application on the intended liquidation.

The struggling retailer also owes the country’s revenue authority a sum of US$8.39 million in Pay as You Earn and VAT arrears.

The struggle to stay afloat in the sector has seen Ukwala offload eight of its outlets to a Botswana and Johannesburg stock exchanges listed retailer, Choppies Enterprises followed by other acquisitions.

By the time of filling for closure of business, the retailer had only one operating outlet in the country.

Besides KRA, the firm owes over 100 suppliers US$ 0.89 million and now wants all proceedings against it to be suspended as the court hears the liquidation suit.

Ukwala owes Kapa Oil Refineries, Ketepa, PZ Cussons, WoW Beverages, Africa Spirits Limited, Mumias Sugar and Chandaria Industries among other suppliers.

This comes at when other retaliers such as Ebrahim’s closed business recently and the near-collapse of troubled retailers Nakumatt and Uchumi, following ballooning debts running into billions of shillings.

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