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Southfield shopping mall: Death trap for mega supermarkets?

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Embakasi, home to JKIA and Southfield Mall

Embakasi, which is part of Nairobi’s Eastlands area contains more than one-third of Nairobi’s Industrial zone.

It is home to East Africa’s busiest airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, estates such as Pipeline and Imara Daima, and the famous Southfield shopping mall.

Southfield mall came after Taj Mall

Founded in 2017, Southfield shopping Mall was designed to satisfy the demand for high-quality retail space in Embakasi, becoming one of the largest shopping malls in Embakasi after Taj Mall.

Southfield Mall is occupied by different retailers such as Dr. Mattresses, Safaricom Shop, Java, KFC, Liquorama, with the ground floor hosting anchor tenants who are mainly major supermarkets.

Residents couldn’t miss a weekend at Southfield

When the mall opened its doors, area residents could not afford to miss a weekend at Southfield, enjoying the first-of-its-kind escalators, snacks in the food cafes, and play pool between matches and beer at the open-air Craig lounge as they watch planes land at the nearby JKIA.

Choppies, a Botswana multinational grocery, and general merchandise retailer were the first anchor tenants. The store was named Choppies Hyper, one of the largest in Kenya between 2017 and 2018. Choppies employees would smile at all customers, an indication that all was well. All the shelves in the Supermarket were always fully stocked with different kinds of products.

Something was amiss at Choppies

A few months later, things started going south. Right from the attendants’ dull faces to the grumpy cashiers and the empty shelves, everyone could easily tell something was amiss. A clear indication that Choppies Hyper, one of the largest chain stores in Nairobi city was going under. Parking lots that hosted luxurious automobiles were empty, a sign that the moneyed had moved elsewhere.

Early 2020, Choppies Hyper was kicked out and Naivas took over, followed by Tuskys. Customers returned to Southfield Mall in full force, and area residents were elated that one of the leading supermarkets in the country was just a doorstep away.

Tuskys soon followed Choppies

In September 2020, Tuskys Southfield Mall started drying up right from fresh vegetables to royco, bread, margarine, maize flour, and other necessities. Sources revealed that Tuskys had gone bankrupt and thus unable to pay their suppliers.

Today I made a walk to Tuskys Southfield mall to get a notebook and some pens for my son. And all I could read was, “TUSKYS, pay less, get more every day, KARIBU” but the doors were closed.

I am yet to fathom how and why Tuskys Southfield branch could shut down operations while the Tuskys Headquarters is a stone-throw away.

Upon inquiring from neighboring shops at the Mall, the feedback was that Tuskys had closed doors completely.

However, the Mall’s website still lists them as a tenant there.

While it is not clear whether Tuskys has vacated the premises, what is certain is their store at the mall is closed.

My questions are;

  • Is it not embarrassing that Tuskys management shut down a major store just less than a kilometer from their headquarters?
  • Is there a spell leading to the closure of all major retailers at the mall?
  • Should we blame the pandemic?
  • Is Southfield Mall a bad omen for mega chain stores?