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BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,28TH AUG 2020-Troubled retailer Tuskys has shut another branch inside Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) in a continuation of rent rows with landlords.
The closure of the branch code named Tuskys Hakati follows threats by the landlord to auction the outlet’s contents to recover long due rent arrears.
The retailer continues to come under pressure from its creditors with landlords leading the way steering the supermarket into murkier waters.
Earlier this week, the retailer was forced to shut down two branches, one along Eldoret’s Uganda road and the other in Komarock as auctioneers came calling.
According to a source close to the matter, landlords have found it easier to receive parts of the arrears through auction threats.
Just last week, the landlord at Kisumu United Mall forced Tuskys hand is clearing half of its rent arrears after it raided the outlet with auctioneers forcing a close of the branch on August 20.
The landlord later terminated the retailer’s lease which will see Tuskys vacate the premises at the close of 2020.
Further to the retailer’s woes, Tuskys staff continue to lament over unpaid dues covering the month of July as the retailer’s cash position seemingly deteriorates.
Contracted staff under outsourcing firm Artemis Outsourcing Limited have been on the raw end of the payment debacle with many yet to receive a coin from their July pay.
The staff have further told of discrimination in comparison to their peers who comprise of unionised staff.
However, union staff at the retailer too have disclosed salary arrears in a cross communication with CEO Daniel Githua.
“The Tusker Mattresses Limited Management regrets for the delay of July 2020 salaries and wishes to clarify that it has no reason whatsoever of holding employees salaries. We further confirm that salaries for the month of July 2020 has been paid in part up to 50 per cent of the total,” reads part of the letter by the CEO to unionised staff dated August 24.
On their part, the unionised staff represented by the Kenya Union of Commercial, Food and Allied Workers (KUCFAW) indicate part of the arrears were still outstanding as of August 26.
On Tuesday, Tuskys revealed it had signed terms of reference with a Mauritius based fund for the provision of a Ksh. 2 billion debt facility.
The acquired debt facility was however contrary to a desired strategic investment which would have seen the potential investor buy out a majority stake in the retailer.
Tuskys seem to be unfortunately stuck on the rusted rails of defunct retailers Nakumatt and troubled Uchumi who likewise found themselves with a burdening stock of debt following long periods of imprudent management of internal affairs.
In spite of getting the loan facility, sources indicate the funding may be little to offset the retailer’s woes with liabilities reportedly outstripping the supermarket’s assets in multiples.