Shoprite’s Karen Waterfront location has closed, declaring 104 employees redundant. Though three stores remain open in Nairobi and in Mombasa, the South African retailer has become one of the first large-scale retailers to close shop during the Covid-19 crisis.

Shoprite entered the market in late 2018 when Kenya was witnessing the fall of its regional supermarket giants, Nakumatt and Uchumi, creating a vacuum for foreign retailers like Shoprite and Carrefour to fill.

In January 2020, creditors of Nakumatt resolved to dissolve whatever was remaining of Nakumatt after audits linked Nakumatt to running a complex, international money laundering syndicate which stretched far beyond the borders of East Africa.

Much like Nakumatt, Uchumi began to experience financial woes and mismanagement and while on the brink of death, the retailer was placed on life support many a time by the government and has recently been spared from dissolution. At its peak, Uchumi employed over 6,500 employees at its 62 branches across Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Shoprite, alongside Game, another South African retail store, are the anchor tenants of the upscale Karen Waterfront mall which boasts 110 international retail shops. While the fate of their remaining Kenyan locations remains unknown, the retailer has an additional 15 locations around the continent.