Choppies to invest KSh20b in Kenyas expansion drive

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Botswana based Choppies Supermarket plans to open between 20 and 25 branches in Kenya, as it races to take advantage of the market gap created by woes facing Nakumatt and Uchumi. The retailer, which is largely a budget store with operations in seven African countries says it has KSh20 billion to pump into its expansion in Kenya in the next three months.

The firm says it will give a major facelift to its 11 branches it bought from Ukwala, and convert most of them into convenience and express stores. It will also be moving into the middle and high-end market, with at least five new branches targeting the middle income and high-end market which had been largely controlled by Nakumatt.

“We want to enrich the basket of goods and that is why we are going for the middle income and high-end market with our new stores,” Vijay Kumar, the Choppies executive director for East Africa said in an interview. Mr Kumar, who was head-hunted from Nakumatt said the retailer is also going to rebrand all the Ukwala branches into Choppies.

He will oversee the retailers business in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. In the region, the supermarket plans to plans to open 40 more stores in the region by mid-2018. He said the retailer as a policy does not use debt for its expansion programme but uses cash from its reserves. “We will fund this expansion through our cash reserves.

We are looking at between 20 and 25 high-end branches and the first five should be open by the end of January next year,” he said. Some of the new branches already in the pipeline include South Field Mall in Embakasi, where it will be taking the battle at the door step of struggling Nakumatt.

“This is will be our flagship mall and it is about 40,000 square feet. We will be the anchor tenant in all locations,” Kumar said. Other branches will be at Kiambu Mall, the Signature Mall in Mlolongo, on Mombasa Road, and Limuru Mall. High-end shoppers It will open a convenience store at Valley Arcade, which will target the high-end shoppers. Other branches are expected in Narok, Nakuru and Eldoret.

Choppies has 217 stores in the region, including operations in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It is also planning to enter Namibia before December while expanding its presence in South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania. It is listed on both South Africa’s JSE securities exchange and the Botswana Stock Exchange.