Blow to Garden City as key tenant leaves

Nairobi’s Garden City, a popular shopping mall along Thika Superhighway, is set to lose a key tenant as South Africa’s Massmart (which operates Game Stores in Kenya) starts plans to exit the country. 

Since entering the Kenyan market in 2015, Game Stores has operated three outlets – Garden City and Waterfront in Nairobi, and Mega City Mall in Kisumu.

Last week, Massmart announced it was divesting in a total of 14 Game Stores in East and West African markets.

“We have reached the conclusion that the performance and complexity in running the 14 stores in five markets in the East and West Africa is something, frankly, that we needed to address,” said Massmart boss Mitchell Slape.

Game Store’s first shop in Kenya was the Garden City outlet, and was the mall’s first floor anchor tenant.

Now, the retailer says talks on the sale of its outlets in Kenya are at advanced stages, which will make it the second big tenant to leave the mall this year, following the exit of another South African retailer, Shoprite, in January.

Mall’s anchor tenant

Before leaving, Shoprite was the mall’s overall anchor tenant, taking up 3,572 square metres of space on the ground floor and was a critical crowd puller. Its exit left many businesses suffering low footfall.

Shoprite left the mall less than two years after entering in 2019, indicating it had made losses worth over Sh3 billion through its outlets in Kenya.

“Kenya, with three stores at year-end, has continued to underperform relative to our return requirements,” Shoprite said in its financial statements last year.

Formerly, the mall’s anchor tenant was Nakumatt, from 2015 when it opened doors to 2017 when it was kicked out for failing to pay rent. The supermarket had taken up 40,000 square feet space.

A visit by the Nation early this year after the exit of Shoprite revealed the sorry state businesses were operating in, while others had exited due to a drop in the number of clients.

“We have been operating this shop since 2015 when the mall opened, we were growing since more clients were getting to know about this brand, but Shoprite’s exit seems to have shaken the flow of clients,” a shop attendant said then.

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