KENYA – Chandarana Foodplus, online grocery and supermarket shopping service has continued to shine amidst stiff competition from both the home-grown and foreign retailers in the chain.

It strives to grow despite the unfavourable business environment stretching from a wide scope of challenges in the Kenyan retail industry, prolonged political predicament and an unpredictable economy, according to Mr Hanif Rajan, the Director of Operations at Chandarana Food Plus as he spoke to Business Daily.

According to Rajan, the sector has faced difficult regulatory compliance demands which it claims has put the local retailers on their knees.

“The entry of international players is another challenge to contend with. But it also inspires the home-grown chains to get better and compete.

The supermarket chain has decided to focus on small, unheard of charities that don’t receive much help and is ‘helping without shouting about it’,” said Rajan.

Chandarana debuted the retail industry supplying fresh food, fresh deli, pastries, wine, cheese, spices and other groceries at its first grocery store at Highridge Shopping Centre in Nairobi’s Parklands area in 1964.

To foster growth and as part of its expansion strategy, the retailer opened its Yaya store in 1991 which spurred the development of an operating model that is still applied to stay afloat in the exigent retail sector.

Rajan added that the retail chain’s success was the product of the conservative, calculating steps the management had taken to avoid miscalculated growth.

The Chandarana stores hosts a set of butcheries, hot delicatessens, wine and spirits, bakeries and fresh vegetables, specialty gastronomical elements like sushi and grab, juices and sandwiches menu.

A decline in performance of the sector has been attributed to increased competition from new entrants, financing and supply chain management challenges that have led to the closure of some outlets especially Uchumi and Nakumatt.

However, retailers like Chandarana, Naivas, Tuskys and foreign entrants such as Choppies and Carrefour remain optimistic in the turbulent sector.

The driving force behind the determination to grow is influenced by the growing affluent middle class, rapid urbanization and growing internet and smartphone penetration.

While the retail sector is considered to remain ‘bullish’ in 2018, Tuskys announced a three-year plan to increase its foothold by 56.3% to 100 new stores in Kenya and Uganda by 2020, from 64 stores presently, according to Business Today.

Economic Pillar of Vision 2030 cites the potential of the retail trade to greatly contribute to the country’s GDP, proving the increasing importance of the supermarkets as a retail channel.