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Old supermarkets survive competition from new entrants

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Away from the millions of shillings that top retail chains like Tuskys, Naivas and Choppies have splurged on 2018 end-year sale promotional campaigns, there is an old crop of supermarkets that appears unshaken.

These old outlets issue no loyalty cards and the list of customers established over the years appear too conservative to be swayed by any quick sale gimmicks.

They stand in contradiction of the business textbook theory that suggests nearly all firms have to exist in a predictable four-phase life journey that runs through expansion, peak, contraction and finally, a trough.

Here is a sample of old shopping outlets, arguably among the oldest in Kenya, that appear to have played outside the rule book to retain their numbers through years of political upheavals, stiff competition and erratic economic growth:

The shopping outlet on Nairobi’s Moi Avenue neither has a free parking lot nor fancy shopping space yet it appears to have withstood the test of time. Apart from the picturesque models of laptop computers on its front windows, nothing else readily seems remarkable about the small retail outlet.

Established in 1944 as a supermarket with electronics and computer distribution unit, Ebrahim comes across as one of the oldest retail outlets in Nairobi. Last year, when constitutional lawyer-cum consumer right activist Apollo Mboya wanted to illustrate how fast flour price has outpaced growth in household incomes, a newspaper cutting of Ebrahim’s pre-Budget Day ad became handy.

The advert, booked on June 3, 1991 that Mr Mboya shared on his twitter handle, shows a two-kilogramme packet of flour retailing at Sh9 at Ebrahim or 12 times less the Sh108 that the commodity sells for today at the same store.

At the time, the supermarket had operations in Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru and Mombasa. Today, only the Moi Avenue outlet is known even though there are two electronic outlets on Kenyatta Avenue and Kimathi Street.

“Ebrahim was already an established shopping outlet by 1977 when I joined the University of Nairobi as a first year student,” recalls journalist Emman Omari. “You can’t really talk about old supermarkets in Kenya without mentioning it.”

When the family patriarch Shantilal Mulji Thakkar started this shopping outlet in 1964, is was a single grocery store targeting the Asian community. And to this day, it is still associated with Indian foods and spices, an aspect that has helped it to retain a niche market.

From the mid 1980s, however, Chandarana has expanded its offering to appeal to a national clientele.

These days, Chandarana stores stock almost everything from wine and spirits to sushi, sandwiches, fresh vegetables and juices. The stores also feature bakeries, butcheries and delicatessens.

Speaking to the Business Daily in February, the firm’s operations director Hanif Rajan attributed the supply chain’s longevity to a cautious, conservative expansion policy “that has saved us from making irrational, emotional decisions.”

He was apparently referring to the supply chain’s conservative growth strategy that has seen it open only 14 branches countrywide throughout its more than 54 years of existence.

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This shopping outlet on Nakuru’s Club Road has been serving customers since 1974. With a floor space of 58,000 square feet, the supermarket is easily recognisable in the town.

Under its motto, “The highest quality lowest prices guaranteed or money back”, the supermarket chain has somewhat managed to personalise its relations with customers in its 44 years of existence.

What started as a single shop more than four decades ago has since morphed into a shopping complex featuring wholesale unit and a food restaurant division that offers Asian, English and African cuisine.

The business also has a real estate division that develops and lets commercial buildings in Nakuru town. The Tower 1, which at 14 floors is one of the tallest buildings in Nakuru today, is one such commercial buildings.

The adage “old is gold” appears to have eluded Kisumu’s retail arena as nearly all its former giants shopping outlets have been edged out by new entrants.

For people who grew up in the 90s, Format, Yatin and Big Buys supermarkets were the major players in the lakeside city as they were known to stock an assortment of products.

Big Buys and Format supermarkets operated on the busy Oginga Odinga Street while Yatin was located on Jomo Kenyatta Highway.

Kentons Supermarket later acquired Big Buys Supermarket and operated until early 2000 when it was dissolved.

On the other hand, Format closed shop and left space for Ukwala Supermarket which took over the store and operated for over a decade before it was bought by Botswana retailer, Choppies.

By the time of its acquisition, Ukwala had five chains of supermarket in Kisumu; three on Oginga Odinga Street, one in Nyamasaria and another one in Kondele.

And in Mombasa, A1 Supermarket at the junction of Hospital Street and Digo Road is one of the oldest shopping outlets on the Island that are still going strong.

The chain is always abuzz with activity as hordes of locals still stream in daily, attracted by what they see as relatively lower prices of a conveniently located store on the Island.

Mr Sammy Muge a resident of Mshomoroni, for instance, believes he saves a lot of cash by shopping at the supermarket which is at the heart of the city and closer to public transport on his way home.

“Most of evenings you may miss walking space as the store is usually packed. Its fair prices are another big win for them compared to other big supermarkets.” Mr Muge said.

The location of the store within the CBD makes it very accessible to shoppers. Mr Kassim Ali who came to the island 32 years ago says he found the store there and has since become its frequent customer.

“This store is usually well stocked and their prices and affordable to mwananchi. Services are fast and its location makes you feel secure unlike the other shopping stores,” he said.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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