The rise of Naivas to the top league

Sunday September 25 2011

SHOPPING MALL developers are falling over themselves to sign up Nakumatt and Tuskys, the two largest retail chain supermarkets in Kenya, as anchor tenants.

They are also starting to notice Naivas, a small supermarket chain which has punched above its weight to post the fastest branch network expansion in the past decade.

“We are having more developers approaching us with plans and proposals to come on board as the main tenants,” said Willy Kimani, Naivas marketing and business development manager.

Naivas last month opened its largest retail outlet — a 52,000 square feet outlet located in Kitengela on the outskirts of Nairobi. The retail chain has also moved its head office and warehouse into the 140,000 square feet Sameer Industrial Park from a smaller 65,000 square feet warehouse in Nairobi’s industrial area.

Ironically, Naivas’ new head office location sandwiches it between Nakumatt’s and Tuskys’ head offices. Well, it is not only in the physical location that Naivas would like to get between Nakumatt and Tuskys: Naivas is slowly climbing up the supermarket pecking order and wants to dislodge Tuskys from the number two slot, says Mr Kimani.

But Nakumatt is not resting on its laurels; it wants to secure its top position and has been growing its retail outlets especially in the middle and high income residential areas; for example, it is eyeing the are around Kampala’s Port Bell road.


However, no developer has expressed interests of setting up a mall even as the market especially the middle class grew.

“We are looking out for developments in the country to provide us with premises,” explained Atul Shah, Nakumatt Holdings managing director.

Nakumatt rents out space in shopping malls but does not get involved in the construction of the mall. It either approaches a property developer to construct a shopping mall in an area of their choice.

By Scola Kamau and Emmanuel Were