Peter Burugu is what the Kenyan media would describe as a reclusive billionaire. And although he hardly makes headlines, his businesses cannot go unnoticed. Strategically located in the heart of Kiambu town is the Ksh 800 million Kiambu Mall. If you are a regular consumer of East African Breweries (EABL) products then chances are high that your drink was delivered by Bia Tosha, a company owned by the billionaire which handles 12 out of every 100 cases of EABL’s products.
Here is the story of Peter Burugu as told by WoK.
Establishing Bia Tosha Company
Mr. Peter Burugu began his career journey at the East African Breweries Limited (EABL) where he worked in different capacities. He started out as an accounts trainee to and rose to head the distribution and logistics department. After spending 27 years in the company, in April 1995 he finally exited the firm through an early retirement plan and decades of knowledge that would be instrumental in helping him establish his private distribution firm.
By the time he was leaving his job, the alcohol market was experiencing stiff competition and rivalry between his former employer and South African Breweries (SAB) which owns the Castle Lager brand. The late billionaire Njenga Karume, who was EABL’s main distributor ditched the company for SAB and that’s when EABL approached Mr. Burugu to take over the mantle. He would then take up the challenge and register a new company under the brand name ‘Bia Yetu.’
He got a loan from a local bank and bought nine trucks while EABL provided stock on credit for a year. At the time, Mr. Burugu would distribute to the bigger part of Kiambu district and parts of Eastlands Nairobi such as Dandora and Kariobangi. A few years into the business, EABL’s major distributor in Nairobi West region collapsed and Burugu took up the job under his second company which he named ‘Bia Tosha.’
The Success of Bia Tosha Company
In 2008, he was requested to merge his two companies and release the Kiambu part to another distributor. The merger saw the Bia Tosha portfolio grow to include South C, Industrial Area, Hurlingham, Upperhill, Kiserian, Rongai, Namanga and Juja.
He established a system of professional management in the company as he prepared to exit the company as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In 2011 he finally passed the leadership button to his daughter, Anne-Marie Burugu who currently serves as the company’s Managing Director.
“I have a daughter and three sons but it’s my daughter who showed keen interest in running the family business. Today she is in charge of Bia Tosha while the boys help me run my real estate firm,” he told Business Daily during a past interview.
In March 2015, Bia Tosha partnered with EABL to open Berries and Barrels – a high end liquor store situated at Yaya Center. The shop mainly deals with high end drinks that retail at Ksh 4,000 and above, including drinks such as John Walker & Sons Odyssey which costs around Ksh 160,000 per bottle.
During an exclusive interview with business daily, Mr Burugu revealed that the profits he makes from his businesses, he is keen to help the needy in charity activities.
“In collaboration with friends and business associates, we are constructing a Ksh 100 million secondary school for needy children in Kisaju, Kitengela. The school called Mother of Mercy Education Center is expected to cater for over 360 needy children. Former Presidential candidate Peter Kenneth will be the school patron,” he said.
The Kshs800 million Kiambu Mall
The Kiambu Mall is an investment by Peter Burugu through his real estate company Mugaa Investments. The state of the art mall sits on a 10 acre piece of land and is situated in the heart of Kiambu town near the Kiambu county headquarters.
The five floors mall covers an area of 14,300 square meters and has a large parking space that can fit up to 100 vehicles. The mall is occupied by both international and local brands including Java, Ashleys, Vivo, Nairobi Hospital, Chicken inn, Creamy inn, Pizza inn, Naivas Supermarket, Pizza Planet and Commercial Bank of Africa among many others.