KENYA – Nakumatt Supermarket has closed its Arusha branch in Tanzania, the latest in a string of recent store closures by the troubled retailer.
The Tanganyika Farmers Association (TFA), which owns the TFA Arusha Shopping Centre where the store was situated, said it had been closed due to failure by retail chain to pay rent arrears amounting to an equivalent of Sh14.5 million.
TFA chairman Peter Ezrah Sirikwa said Nakumatt had failed to settle the arrears. Nakumatt officials remained tight-lipped on the closure.
The development is a blow for the struggling retailer as the popular TFA complex hosts restaurants, forex bureau, shops, curio shops, outlets selling electronic devices, Internet cafes, automated device machines for various banks and offices.
The store is frequented by tourists heading to the national parks.
Nakumatt Arusha was opened in August 2014, becoming its fourth branch in Tanzania.
The premises initially served as a supermarket operated by South Africa’s Shoprite. At least 80 locals were hired for employment then.
Nakumatt now has two operating branches in Tanzania; the Moshi branch in Kilimanjaro and the Pugu Road branch in Dar es Salaam. Both are operating with almost empty shelves.
On Tuesday, prominent Tanzanian businessman Yusuf Manji was linked with a bid for Nakumatt, with suppliers saying the business magnate is willing to acquire shares in the troubled company as a way of bailing them out.
“In principle, Mr Manji is willing to buy a stake in Nakumatt….We have had discussions with him and he is more than willing to do so,” Joseph Mlay, who chaired the task force for suppliers of goods to Uchumi and Nakumatt supermarkets said.
Mr Manji operates the famous American Supermarket in Dar es Salaam.
Nakumatt has over the past one year shut down a number of non-performing outlets in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania as the family-owned retailer battles hefty financial obligations.
It recently closed its Mlimani City store in Dar es Salaam and its Bungoma and Busia branches in western Kenya.
Other stores shut include Junction Mall in Nairobi, Bamburi branch in Mombasa; Lunga Lunga in Nairobi; Thika Road Mall on Thika Road, Next Gen on Mombasa Road and Westgate in Westlands, Nairobi.
Nakumatt and Tuskys recently announced that confidential merger talks were ongoing, but a formal agreement was yet to be reached.