By Kimani Kuria
Naivas Supermarket is the dominant retailer in Kenya with 74 outlets spread around the country. The retailer is a recent beneficiary of an investment worth Ksh 6 billion that is set to be used to push business and grow the chain to new levels. The cumulative multi–billion investment from Amethis Finance, International Finance Corporation (IFC), DEG, and MCB Equity Fund has resulted in the rise of another Mukuha family feud.
The Mukuha Family
Naivas is a privately–run supermarket chain in Kenya that was founded on 27th July 1990. The retail store was started by the late Peter Kago Mukuha who passed on in 2010 leaving the estate to his children David Kimani, Simon Gachwe, Wairimu Linet, and Wambui Grace. His firstborn son Newton Kagiri Mukuha was left out of the business ownership leading to numerous court cases.
The business was operated as Rongai Self–Service Store. Then, the business had three outlets in Naivasha, Rongai, and Elburgon. Out of these, the firstborn son Kagiri ran the Rongai outlet.
In 1999, the family patriarch chose to distribute the assets he had built over the years. With this move by Kago Mukuha, the supermarket ceased being a family business. The Elburgon outlet was given to Gachwe Simon and Wambui Grace, with an accompanying house. Rongai Self–Service Store’s outlet in Naivasha was left to Linet Wairimu and David Kimani. Over the years, David Kimani and Simon Gachwe partnered to manage the outlet in Naivasha, scaling it to Naivas Supermarket as it is known today.
The business is owned by the siblings and most recently by the new shareholders who invested Ksh 6 billion into the retailer. David Kimani and Simon Gachwe each own 25% of the business, the sisters each own 15%, and the remaining 20% is the estate of their late father Peter Mukuha. Clearly, the firstborn son Newton Mukuha Kagiri was left out of the equation which he did not take lightly.
Naivas Court Cases
Newton Mukuha has been to court on multiple occasions with the first instance taking place in 2012 when he attempted to prevent the disposal of the supermarket to South Africa–based Massmart which went through successfully. Most recently, he has been demanding a stake in the Ksh 6 billion derived from the collective foreign investment in Naivas. Newton Kagiri bases his demands on their father’s 20% inheritance and seed capital investment in the business worth Ksh 4 billion.
He asked the court to remove David Kimani as Naivas Chief Executive Officer, compelling the directors to channel the investment funds to a joint interest–earning account, demanding the official recognition of the present business as a Rongai Self–Service Store product, and prevent any more sales of the company assets and shares after the 30% stake was sold.
Genesis of Squabbles
In 2016, the managing director of Naivas Supermarket David Kimani Mukuha bastardised a will presented to court by his elder brother purporting to represent the wishes of his father. According to the MD, Mr Kagira forged the will in a bid to disinherit his siblings from their father’s multi-billion inheritance.
He told the court that his brother led an irresponsible lifestyle despite his siblings, who are co-directors of Naivas, efforts to assist him.
“He is the only one opposed to the will left behind by our late father,” said Mr Kimani. “My father convened a meeting on March 20, 2010 at our home in Naivasha, where he disclosed the details of the genuine will.”