By Aliyu Dangida
The Kano state branch of Shoprite, one of Nigeria’s frontline supermarket chains has finally quit operations in the state despite efforts by the Deputy President of the Senate, Barau Jibrin to make them stay.
Daily News 24 reports that Shoprite closed its doors for the last on Sunday January 14, 2024 after initiating a massive discount for customers days before.
It could be recalled that Shoprite, operated by Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited, explained in the letter signed by one of its officials Mubertus Rick, that the decision was taken “after careful evaluation of the financial situation of the store and the current business climate”.
The letter titled “Ado Bayero Mall Closing Announcement”, said the retail store will be closing its doors on January, 14, 2023.
“Dear Employees, I regret to inform you that our store in Ado Bayero Mall Kano, Kano state will be closing its doors on January 14, 2024.
“This decision was not made lightly, as we understand the impact it may have on our employees and community, however, after careful evaluation of the financial situation of the store and the current business climate we believe in the best course of action for the long term growth of our organisation,” the letter read.
“We understand that this news may be difficult to digest and we want to assure you that we are here to support you during this transitional period. Your well being is our top priority and we will do everything we can to assist you in finding new opportunities within our company,” it added.
However, the company urged its staff members to explore opportunities in its other stores across Nigeria.
“We encourage you to apply for any existing positions in our existing stores across the country, through the human resources department.
Additionally, we will be opening new stores in the coming month and you are welcome to apply for employment there as well.
We deeply appreciate your dedication, hardwork and commitment to our company through out the years,” it further said.
Senator Barau’s intervention
But following the announcement, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Barau Jibrin had reached out to Shoprite in order to assist them to resolve their challenges and keep operating in the state.
In a statement, issued by Senator Barau’s spokesperson Ismail Mudashir, the senate president said he would meet with the store’s management to discuss the issue.
“The Office of the Deputy President of the Senate has set machinery in place to halt the exit of Shoprite from Kano State.
“The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Barau I Jibrin, CON, will meet with the management of the company this week, where the issue will be discussed and hopefully resolved.
“Yes, it is a pure business issue, but we will see what we can do to encourage them to rescind their decision and stay in Kano.
“As we all know, there are enormous business opportunities in Kano, the commercial nerve centre of northern Nigeria. At a time when we are scouting for investors, we will not fold our hands and allow them to leave,’’ he said.
Attempts to contact the Shoprite management in Kano failed as its Branch Manager, Samuel Itopa did not respond to a phone call seeking his comment and did not also reply a WhatsApp message sent to him.
However, it was learnt that the Shoprite was forced to quit Ado Bayero Mall, its tenant and host over irreconcilable differences and difficult business environment.
Factors that contributed to Shoprite’s exit
Reports have revealed that the supermarket chains was paying N60 million monthly as rent apart from costs of electricity and water as well as salaries for its teeming employees.
Informed sources said the Shoprite management had tried to negotiate the hefty rent fee with Ado Bayero Mall, but the two could not reach an agreement.
Another challenge Shoprite faced was stiff competition from neighbouring supermarkets and stores which offer cheaper prices for their products than Shoprite.
Nonetheless, observers say the exit of Shoprite would affect the patronage of other business in the mall because a vast majority of people that visit the mall do so because of Shoprite.
Shoprite first opened its doors in Kano in March 2014 as the first branch of the South African supermarket chains in northern Nigeria.
Ado Bayero Mall welcomes new tenant
Just a few days after the announcement of Shoprite’s exit, the Management of Ado Bayero Mall in Kano disclosed the addition of a new anchor tenant, Ni9ne Global Enterprise, trading as “NI9NE.”
According to a Leadership report, Ni9ne will specialise in household electronics, kitchen wares, computers, furniture, do-it-yourself tools/equipment, packaged foods, and a comprehensive range of white goods.
The new tenant is expected to cover an area as vast as 5,000 square meters at the sprawling mall.
Following Shoprite’s exit, the Mall’s management had revealed ongoing negotiations with new retail chains to occupy the vacant space left by the departing tenant.
The arrival of Ni9ne Global Enterprise, a division of the Sunbelt Wax Group collaborating with Nigerian partners, signifies the fruition of these discussions.
The enterprise operates across various sectors, including manufacturing, retail, logistics, and hospitality businesses.
Ni9ne Global is swiftly establishing a solid presence in the Kano market with its unique business model of “Factory to Customers,” offering quality products at competitive prices directly to consumers.
Sunbelt Wax Group, a multinational corporation presently operating in China, Nigeria, and Uganda, backs Ni9ne’s ventures.