In Summary
  • The struggling retailer said in a statement posted on its Twitter page that it had reluctantly accepted a resignation letter from Kipng’etich “to pursue personal interest”.
  • Uchumi has posted a series of losses in the last three years as it struggled to turn around after it fell into receivership in mid-2006 following a botched expansion plan.

Uchumi Supermarkets' chief executive Julius Kipng’etich’s sudden departure has called into question the retailer’s recovery prospects in an environment where deep-pocketed foreign rivals are racing to take more territory from struggling local rivals.

Dr Kipng’etich, whose resignation took Uchumi’s board by surprise, joined the retailer in August 2015 in what was billed as a swift turnaround mission.

But the turnaround artist, who established a corporate culture at government agency Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), soon found out that Uchumi’s troubles ran deep and with very few avenues for the journey to recovery.

Uchumi’s problems appeared to have only compounded during Dr Kipng’etich two-year tenure and his exit now leaves the supermarket with the challenge of recruiting another turnaround artist.

“The … board of directors has accepted, with reluctance, the resignation of the chief executive officer of the company, Dr Julius Kipng’etich, with effect from November 30, 2017 to pursue personal interests,” the company announced on Wednesday.

Uchumi appointed chief finance officer Mohamed Ahmed as the acting CEO, promising to identify a substantive successor in due course. Chief operating officer Andrew Dixon –a former executive of Tesco and Nakumatt Holdings who joined Uchumi in November— is seen as a frontrunner to replace Dr Kipng’etich.

Uchumi chairperson Catherine Ngahu told the Business Daily that no decision had been made, but the new CEO would be recruited through a transparent process.

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