KENYA – Kenya’s retail giant, Naivas Supermarket, has seen its workforce exceed 10,000 employees as the company continues its robust expansion by opening new branches in the past year.

According to Mauritian conglomerate IBL Group, which is part of the consortium holding a 51% stake in Naivas, the remarkable growth solidifies Naivas as one of the largest private sector employers in the country.

“As of last week, Naivas had 10,750 employees, a substantial increase from just over a year ago when it had around 8,000 employees while operating 87 branches,” it stated.

“The retail sector in Kenya has long been a significant source of employment, requiring a large workforce to manage various aspects of store operations, including cashiers, logistics and distribution personnel, and sales staff.”

Naivas’ headcount now places it ahead of some of the largest firms listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) in terms of the number of employees, excluding the indirect employment generated through supplier contracts.

By comparison, as of March 2023, Safaricom, Kenya’s largest firm by market capitalization on the NSE, listed 5,362 permanent employees across the group.

Equity Group, the second largest firm by market cap, reported a total of 13,065 permanent and temporary employees across eastern Africa by the end of 2022, with 8,160 based in Kenya.

KCB Bank Kenya had 5,458 employees at the end of the previous year, and the group’s total headcount in the region stood at 16,580.

However, in the wake of its impressive expansion, Naivas has addressed speculations about a potential listing on the NSE.

The company clarified that it currently has no immediate plans to list, as it is still in a growth phase.

According to Naivas Chief of Operations, Peter Mukuha, listing is not on the horizon as the retailer remains focused on organic and retail expansion.

Naivas has recently opened its 100th branch and announced plans for two more by the end of the year, demonstrating its commitment to growing its market share.

A recent Research and Markets report suggests that new store openings, acquisitions, and e-commerce initiatives will drive the growth of Kenya’s retail industry through 2030.

Despite economic challenges and changes in consumer shopping patterns, Kenyan retailers have continued to invest in expanding their retail branches.

As of October 2023, Naivas, founded in 1990, has established itself as the largest supermarket chain in Kenya, operating 100 stores and employing over 10,000 people.

This puts the retail giant ahead of its competitors, with a significant lead over the second-largest Quickmart, which has 59 stores.

Carrefour, a more recent entrant to the market, has 20 outlets. The retail sector’s remarkable growth in Kenya can be attributed to a rising middle class, urbanization, and increased technological adoption, resulting in a more dynamic and competitive landscape.