Timothy Kihara: Co-Founder Of Cleanshelf Supermarket And Its History

Timothy Kihara: One Of The Founders Of Cleanshelf Supermarket
Cleanshelf Supermarkets Co-founder Timothy Kihara PHOTO/Courtesy

Established retailers such as Uchumi, Nakumatt and Tuskys dominated the Kenyan market for years.

However, these supermarkets went under over poor management characterised by corruption and infighting among siblings over control of the giant retailers. 

This enabled entrants such as Cleanshelf Supermarket which was domiciled in specific areas to take the space left by the big boys. 

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Here is a brief background of one of the best locally owned supermarket chain in Kenya as told by WoK.

Owners and stores

Cleanshelf Supermarket was founded in 2002 as a single supermarket based in Limuru Town.

As of 2019, the retail chain which is owned by three brothers had over 10 stores spread across the country and had employed over 800 people.

In January 2019,  the supermarket opened a branch in Kayole after taking over a space previously occupied by Nakumatt.

Cleanshelf co-founder and Managing Director Timothy Kihara said they had opened the store to serve the vast population in the area and its environs.

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“Traditionally, people associate Eastlands with a population that lacks buyer power but this is not the case here

“The mall is surrounded by affluent estates and a vast population that craves a great shopping experience, which was the inspiration behind this store’s opening,” Kihara said.


The supermarket has branches in Lang’ata, Limuru, Wendani, Shujaa Mall (Kayole), Ruaka and Rongai.

Others are in Kahawa West, Kiambu, Nyahururu, Kerugoya, Kikuyu, Nakuru and K-Mall (Komarock).

Tax evasion scheme suit

In August 2021, the retailer won a Ksh 5.9 million tax claim after the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) failed to provide witnesses linking it to missing trader tax evasion scheme.

The KRA had claimed that the retailer was a beneficiary of the scheme that involved the use of fictitious invoices to inflate cost of sales.

The tribunal said unlike the KRA, the retailer had provided tax invoices, corresponding delivery notes, and goods received notes showing it bought the supplies.

“KRA averred that Cleanshelf merely purchased invoices without attendant goods. However KRA failed to adduce evidence to support its averments,” the tribunal led by Patrick Lutta said.

Hand sanitizer scandal

In March 2020, the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) ordered Cleanshelf Supermarkets to contact and refund all customers who bought hand sanitiser at inflated prices.

At the time, the supermarkets used to sell 500ml Tropikal hand sanitiser at Ksh 800 but the Authority established that the supermarket sold the products above the normal retail price by Ksh 200.

CAK accused Cleanshelf of exploiting its customers following the pronouncement of existence of COVID-19 in Kenya.

The retailer was directed to refund customers who bought the 960-pieces of hand sanitisers above the retail price and submit evidence of the same.

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