Why supermarkets in Uganda should meet quality marks

Capital Shoppers supermarket staff attend to customers in Ntinda, Kampala. Photo by Rachel Mabala

What you need to know:

  • According to UNBS, other supermarkets have not complied despite its efforts to interest them to take on ISO 9001-2008.
  • At Shoprite Checkers Supermarket, an official, who preferred anonymity for not being the voice for the company, said if ISO 9001-2008 is a requirement that they must have, , they will have to comply.
  • Suppliers can either make or break a supermarket business basing on the quality of products they provide, their expiry date and timely delivery, among others.
  • Dorothy Nakaweesi spoke to some of the retail supermarkets on their quality controls considering that only one supermarket in Uganda was awarded an international quality mark.

Recently, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) awarded Nakumatt (U) Ltd’s chain of Supermarkets an international quality mark: International Standards Organisation (ISO) 9001-2008 certified.
The standards body claims Nakumatt met customer, statutory and regulatory requirements applicable at both international and national level before it was awarded the ISO 9001-2008 certification.
This means Nakumatt is the only retail supermarket in Uganda that has achieved this certification whose scope covers the retailing of household and consumer goods in Uganda.
The ISO 9001:2008 is a written standard that defines the basic elements of a quality management system that organisations should adopt to ensure that their services meet or exceed customers’ expectations.

Dr Ben Manyindo, the executive director of UNBS, while handing over the certificates to Nakumatt supermarket chain managers at their headquarters in Bweyongere Industrial Park, said: “The award of the ISO 9001:2008 Certificate by the UNBS is a clear demonstration of the fact that Nakumatt has continued to put in place systems, processes and procedures for the efficient delivery of services to their clients while attaining business continuity.”
The award of the ISO 9001:2008 Certification is important in realising the mission and vision of an organisation in the supermarket retail business in which Nakumatt has been the flag bearer of implementing a Quality Management Systems (QMS) in Uganda and outside Kampala.

Mr Manyindo, therefore, encouraged other chain stores to emulate Nakumatt to implement an effective QMS which in return ensures customer satisfaction and business continuity.
Nakumatt Oasis branch manager Vincent Kimuya said this mark would give them an edge in Uganda’s competitive and flooded retail industry.
“It’s our commitment to implement a Quality Management System based on an international standard. This will give assurance that as Nakumatt Uganda Limited, we have demonstrated our ability to consistently provide our customers with products and services that not only meet their needs, but also meet applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.”

Certification Process
Nakumatt, which has expanded from three to nine outlets, has been working with UNBS since 2012 to have their systems certified.
Mr Martin Imaligant, the quality assurance manager at UNBS, explains that the ISO 9001-2008 Quality management standard looks at the processes, procedures which must be written down for everybody in an organisation to meet. They must also be documented and known by everybody in the organisation.
“All these systems must be focused to customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is the end result of implementing this standard. That’s why they provide customer feedback within the standard,” Mr Imaligant explained.

He shared that Nakumatt has been self-monitoring and evaluating itself regularly for feedback on their performance. Within all the supermarket chains in Uganda, Nakumatt has complied with these standards.
Since the retail chain has only three years before the ISO 9001 2008 certification ends, they should start applying for the newly developed standard of ISO 9001-2015.
“I also take this opportunity to encourage Nakumatt to transit to ISO 9001:2015 the 5th edition of Quality Management system standards published which will render ISO 9001:2008 obsolete by September 2018. We give them three years and during this time, we shall do an audit surveillance to see whether they still living up to those standards,” Mr Imaligant added.

Status of other supermarkets
According to UNBS, other supermarkets have not complied despite its efforts to interest them to take on ISO 9001-2008.

A customer walks into one of the branches of Nakumatt supermarket in Kampala. Photo by Rachel Mabala

“We have been encouraging them (other supermarkets) to comply but we found that their biggest challenge is documentation,” Mr Manyindo revealed.
He added that for one to achieve the ISO 9001-2008 certification, they must document every step of their processes and procedures.
“It is at this stage that most supermarkets have failed and others have not started putting their documents in order,” Mr Manyindo shared.
The cost implication is the other reason UNBS mentions that is hindering other players to take on ISO certification.
UNBS notes that it costs about Shs3 million to get the certification but other costs crop up in following it up.

“Many supermarkets think it’s expensive. This standard requires one to get it, train and the most expensive part is the documentation, in terms of time but also money. In most cases, companies need to have someone internal to take stock of the procedures and this requires an expert, which most of our companies/ supermarkets don’t have,” Mr Manyindo explained.
However, in an interview with Prosper magazine, Mr Ponsiano Ngabirano, the proprietor of Capital Shoppers, said: “We don’t want to rush. To get ISO 9001-2008, you have to go through rigorous stages which we are working on.”
Mr Ngabirano added that the process involves paying UNBS to do routine check of their premises and how they offer services yet this is not the only certification they have to focus on.
Mr Ngabirano says there are other certifications like the Halal which requires supermarkets to sell foods free from any component that Muslims are prohibited from consuming, according to Islamic law.

“Right now, we are working with UNBS to get certified on HACCAP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and we have undergone the first training and will be doing the second training in October.”
HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.
At Shoprite Checkers Supermarket, an official, who preferred anonymity for not being the voice for the company, said if ISO 9001-2008 is a requirement that they must have, , they will have to comply.

In an interview with Prosper magazine, Mr Henry Kimera, the executive secretary Consumer Education Trust - an organisation which advocates for rights of consumers, said it is a good practice for them and if fully implemented, it will improve management systems and facilitate good service delivery to consumers.
“Supermarkets that don’t comply will not be affected. ISO is there to help improve management systems through addressing critical aspects. A company without it might be better managed in ISO quality management systems. It’s only that it’s not audited and certified in human resources, records keeping, product handling and disposal aspects, good practices observance,” Mr Kimera shared.

Mr Kimera advises supermarkets to work with suppliers who comply with product standards, labelling standards, public health, food laws, hygiene and business laws.
“Acquiring the ISO QMS 9001 is one step. Compliance, fully implementing and following through good practice are cardinal,” Mr Kimera said.

Customers’ views on quality in supermarkets

“I prefer shopping from Capital shoppers and Quality Supermarket because they are Ugandan Supermarkets. Secondly they have relatively good quality items at a fair price compared to South African and Kenyan supermarkets,” Ms Agatha Siima, Communications officer

“When in Kampala City, I prefer shopping at Mega Standard Supermarket because they have whatever I need and it’s near the taxi park, that’s if I am to use taxi. Because I stay in Mpelerwe, I also do shopping at Peoples’ Supermarket because it’s near home,” Peter Mukyusa, resident of Mpelerwe

“I like shopping from Capital Shoppers because it has variety, a good loyalty card programme and offers they always give on items that I wouldn’t otherwise have bought such as wine and vinegar. I also like shopping at Nakumatt because everything is more organised and I can shop and browse as opposed to other supermarkets where it feels overcrowded,” Brenda Mawemu