Kampala. Uchumi Supermarket has sent 180 workers on forced leave after closing two branches in Kabalagala and Nateete.
In an interview yesterday, Mr Gichamba Chege, the acting Uchumi general manager, told Daily Monitor that they had sent workers at the two branches on forced leave pending communication from their head office in Nairobi, Kenya.
“…we have asked workers to go on leave for 21 days as we wait for communication from our head office in Nairobi,” Mr Chege said, before confirming they had permanently closed the two outlets.
The two branches were closed on Sunday and Monday respectively.
Early last week, the Kabalagala branch was closed after Umeme cut off power supply to the outlet over a Shs70m electricity bill.
Workers who spoke to Daily Monitor on condition of anonymity, yesterday said they had been asked to go on indefinite leave but complained of non-payment of their September salaries.
However, Mr Chege said they would address the issue after they have got clearance from Nairobi, adding: “We have discussed with the union (workers’ group) and they would return to work after 21 days.”
Mr David Mugo, the Uganda country manager, has been out of the country for more than two months now.
The struggling chain store, which has been running six outlets in Uganda, has seen three of its branches closed over non-performance and tight competition from the seemingly saturated retail market and informal traders.
Last year management closed off the Freedom City branch, saying it had not performed to expectations because of poor location.
In June, Uchumi sacked the then chief executive officer, Mr Jonathan Ciano, citing gross mismanagement and loss of goods through theft.
The chain has since hired Hipora Business Solutions East Africa, a human resources agent, to investigate the theft of goods off the supermarkets’ shelves.
The investigation, Mr Owino Ayondo, the acting Uchumi Group chief executive, said in June would cover its 37 branch network across East Africa.
The retailer has previously had problems with suppliers over an accumulated debt of more than Shs33b spread over its network.