By Prudence Minayo
Furniture Palace is owned by Noorali Manji, a serial entrepreneur who made a fortune from selling high end furniture. The company opened its door in 2002, has grown to have six branches-four in Nairobi and one apiece in Mombasa and Eldoret. Over the years, Manji diversified his business by venturing in the manufacture of wheelbarrows and other farm equipment.
In September 2021, Tana Furniture-a Mauritius based firm-sought to buy 55.9% shares in Furniture Palace Ltd. Tana has tentacles spread in 20 different countries with their key interests being in food, healthcare, agribusiness and furniture. The shareholding would be split into two, with the other half going to its subsidiary Kitea SA.
“The proposed acquisition relates to Tana Furniture directly acquiring a 27.95 per cent shareholding in Furniture Palace Ltd (FPL) and a 27.95 per cent shareholding through Furniture for Africa (FFA) – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kitea S.A which is jointly controlled by Tana Furniture,” part of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Competition Commission reports reads.
The key brand achievements of furniture palace include:
- Maintaining its leadership position as the country’s largest retailer of furniture and continuously changing and achieving a double-digit revenue growth, year after year for more than seven years.
- In 2008, it was awarded small and medium sized enterprises
- The first furniture company in Kenya to print and distribute a million catalogues in 2010
- The first company in the country to sell some of the world’s best furniture brands including Ashley from USA and Sofitalia from Italy.
Branching into the hospitality industry
Noorali Manji also owns kes2.3 billion The Hilton Garden Inn near Jomo Kenyatta International Airport alongside his friend and business partner Shachedina Sabdurin. It was Modern Reliance’s prime location near the airport that gave him the idea to venture into the hospitality industry.
The hotel sits on 1.3 acre land hived off from Modern Reliance warehouse land. The capital to begin the hotel came from an Equity bank loan and an advance from Diamond Trust Bank. It has 170 rooms and operates as an airport hotel targeting travellers seeking accommodation that minimizes their chances of being held up in Nairobi’s traffic jam.
Operating as a Franchise of Hilton hotel, they adhere to the brand’s standards in terms of look and feel, quality of the property, required amenities and the room sizes. The owner of the hotel has autonomy to manage the daily operations with inspections carried out by the parent hotel from time to time to check whether standards are being adhered to.