Uchumi is a public limited company incorporated in 1975 under the Companies Act (Cap 486 of the Laws of Kenya). Its main objective is to have an enterprise for equitable distribution of essential commodities, affordable prices whilst creating an outlet for the local manufacturers. On 17th December 1976, Uchumi shareholders- Industrial Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC), Kenya Wine Agencies Limited (KWAL) and Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC) – all Government owned parastatals entered into a management contract with Standa SPA of Italy. Standa, a leading supermarket group with a presence in Europe and vast retail experience was given the task to manage and train Kenyan personnel who would eventually take over the running of the organization. The first three branches were opened in 1976 with the Market Branch marking the first Milestone. Uchumi became a trendsetter in low pricing to the advantage of all consumers, while at the same time maintaining high standards in quality of goods and services.In the 1990’s Uchumi spearheaded the hypermarket concept in Kenya. The introduction of the hypermarket concept and specialty shops has been a runaway success. Uchumi places inordinate emphasis on the value of continuous training and concern with staff-customer relations. The key ingredients of Uchumi’s runaway success was a keen focus on the buying culture of Kenyan shoppers, close working relations with suppliers and good management-staff relations. Uchumi has avoided concentrating on imported foodstuffs and other foreign products that are locally available. This has led to the improvement of the quality of processed products sold by local companies. Fresh juices, fruit squashes, breakfast cereals, processed teas, coffee are a few of the local products that are now sold en masse in her outlets. Uchumi emphasizes growth away from city centers, focusing instead on the residential shopper, enabling them to remain closer to the hearts (and ultimately the pocket and purse) of the average Kenyan.In early 2000s Uchumi started to experience financial and operational difficulties occasioned by a sub-optimal expansion strategy coupled with weak internal control systems. This resulted in a marked diminution of the Companys resources which culminated in its inability to meet its obligations on an ongoing basis. Initial restructuring of Uchumi did not forestall the deteriorating performance of the Company. As a result, on 31st May 2006, the Board of Directors resolved that the Company ceases operations and on 2nd June 2006, the Debenture Holders placed the Company under receivership. Simultaneously, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) suspended the Companys listing on the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE). Following a framework agreement between the Government of Kenya, suppliers and debenture holders, the company is revived and commenced operations from 15th July, 2006 under Specialized Receiver Manager (SRM) and interim management.
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