By Isaac Blessings
The number of supermarkets entering the Kenyan market are on a steady increase as others fold their businesses for a myriad of reasons. However, Gilani’s Supermarket has stood the test of time and continues to be relevant and successful amidst stiff competition from the likes of Naivas and Quickmart.
In this article, WoK brings you the story of the family behind this supermarket which has been in existence for over 48 years.
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Gilani’s Supermarket background
When you mention the name Gilani’s to Nakuru residents, it immediately raises an image of the oldest and most successful supermarket in the region. Gilani’s supermarket was established in 1972 by family patriarch Mr. Ghulam Hussein and his sons Salim and Nazmi. It started off as a small retail shop known as Gilani’s Agency situated along Pandit Nehru road in Nakuru city.
The retail shop grew steadily and by the late 1980’s it had grown to be the only wholesale shop in Nakuru and its environs. As the business grew, they kicked off their expansion strategy and relocated to its current location along Club road, off Kenyatta Avenue in the Central Business District (CBD) of Nakuru city. Within a span of two years, the business had grown from making a three digit profit to a seven figure profit attracting big time investors.
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Gilani’s Supermarket Management
This supermarket has remained relevant and ahead of its competitors in the region due to the discipline of its directors and strong family presence in the management of the business. Nearly all members of the family have worked or launched their businesses by working in the family business.
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This has in time ensured a steady flow of manpower that has kept the family business running for more than four decades. Today, the company is supervised by five directors – two of them being in the third generation of the Gilani family.
The directors include Shamsher Gilani who is the finance director, Faiz Gilani who is the sales director, Aleem Gilani the operations director and Zahir Gilani who is the executive director. The supermarket has employed over 750 people who are on the company’s payroll every month.
Gilani’s Supermarket Struggles
One of the biggest setbacks the supermarket faced was in 2019 after the county government of Nakuru closed the supermarket. The government revealed that the building which houses the supermarket is old and unsafe for habitation.
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“We have concern for the members of the public, and for us to be sure that they are safe, we issued a closure notice and we are only going to consider reopening this building when we get the reports from relevant authorities confirming that the building is safe for occupation,” said Francis Mwangi who is the member of the County Executive Committee (CEC) on Lands, Physical Planning and Housing.
However, the supermarket came back a few months later after the building underwent refurbishment and renovations making the building the oldest functioning one in the region.
Gilani’s family interests in other ventures
The Gilani’s family has interests in other sectors especially in the hospitality industry. The family owns the Gilani’s restaurant in Nakuru which is a favorite destination for most middle and working class residents.
The Gilani’s restaurant comprises The Cafeteria – a fast food restaurant, The Magic Carpet – a formal dining room and The Penalty Box – a newly renovated coffee bar and lounge. Just opposite the restaurant is the famous Gilani’s Bar – one of the most frequented bars in the city.
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They also provide outside catering services for major events such as the annual Brinslow sevens rugby tournament. The family also owns the Imperial hotel in Kisumu which is a five star hotel and among the top ten tallest buildings in Kisumu.
The family is also into the Real estate sector through the Gilani Holdings Limited which has built the Ksh 750 million Gilani’s Tower One building which is apparently the tallest commercial building in Nakuru city.
In 2017, Kisumu Governor Professor Peter Anyang‘ Nyong’o claimed that the Imperial Hotel had been bought by the then Governor Jack Ranguma.
Nyong’o stated that he would sell the hotel when he assumed power.
“Once I take over power, I will sell the hotel (Imperial),” Nyongo stated.
Ranguma refuted the claims made by Nyong’o saying that he did not have the finances to buy the four star hotel.
“Where can I get money to buy that hotel? I have not bought any hotel in Kisumu and I do not even have an interest in buying any hotel,” said Ranguma.
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