By Prudence Minayo
Mulley Supermarket chain is a family run business with a rich history dating back in the 60s. The giant retailer faced a difficult financial patch that led to its demise.
The foundation of the supermarket was laid in 1969 when it began operations as a wholesaler under the leadership of the late Peter Ngumbi Mulei. The late family patriarch had no formal education and found it difficult to communicate in English. He used to sell wood carvings to foreigners, and his inability to communicate in English bothered him. He had to use signs and vowed that his children and younger siblings would get the best education possible. He made sure his children went abroad for higher studies.
The children would work at their father’s business which was operating under the name Peter Ngumbi Mulei and Sons Limited. It had become a household name in the Ukambani region and continued to grow immensely.
Some found it strange that the children traveled abroad only to return home and become shopkeepers. However, the children knew their vision for the family business was greater.
With their knowledge, they expanded the business with the workforce growing from 12 to hundreds of people.
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In December 2010, the first Mulley Supermarket was opened in Machakos county. This was a momentous occasion as it was their first locally owned supermarket. Kevin Mulei became Chief Executive Officer and a key cog in driving the growth of the supermarket.
As their pioneer branch flourished, there was no stopping their success as in the coming years they opened 10 branches. The branches were spread across Eastern and Nairobi area. They opened retail stores in Machakos, Kitui, Mlolongo, Tala, Emali and Embakasi.
Reports emerged that the supermarket was experiencing financial woes as it went to close five branches leaving many unemployed. A notice by the management to employees stated that they were closing temporarily for the purpose of restructuring and reorganization.
It has closed its main branches in Machakos: Mulleys Express near Machakos bus station and Mulleys Pioneer opposite Machakos General Hospital. Other branches that have been closed are: Mulleys Highway in Mlolongo, Kitui branch and Tala branch.
Murmurs that the supermarket was in trouble began when products started disappearing on the shelves. It was unable to restock basic products like milk, bread and sugar. Other products like clothes and electronics, had begun disappearing on shelves from last year.
In a PR move by the supermarket in 2021, famous comedian Churchill Ndambuki assured the public that the management was doing everything to restock and the supermarkets won’t close down.