CAPTION: Uchumi CEO Julius Kipngetich who made a fortune selling ivory from poached elephants during his stint as KWS boss. During his stint, poaching in Kenya rose to record-highs.
As a current employee, I write this with concern on the current state and the direction with which Uchumi Supermarkets is currently heading. The
current regime led by celebrity-CEO Julius Kipngetich who whiles away bribing business journalists to always appear on TV and Business Daily telling us fuck-all, came in determined to turn around the company but the same way that the previous management opted to line their pockets instead of working for greater good, so is the current regime doing.
We had noted earlier that celebrity-CEO Julius Kipngetich was seconded to Uchumi Supermarkets by James Mwangi, so that they can eventually take over from the giant-retailer.
The current CEO Julius Kipngetich has criticized his predecessor Jonathan Ciano and staff alike for using Uchumi as their cash-cow and engaging in conflict of interest by using their proxy-companies to trade with Uchumi, but Kenyans will be shocked to know that the same is
being practiced disguised by suppliers that the Kalenjin thief Julius Kipngetich has recently introduced.
You may never see this reported in the mainstream media because Julius Kipngetich has bribed journalists like Business Daily’s Brian Wasuna to black this information out.
Here below, we list the details;
1. Liquor Barrels:
This company was a money minting machine brought forth allegedly by the former Chief Operating Officer Willy Kimani and approved by the CEO. They were to run the liquor section on behalf of Uchumi of which the company would make astronomical losses of nearly 70% of the income from the section. When questions were raised, plus complaints of non-performance by Uchumi’s auditors, coupled with the exit of the COO, the project collapsed and hence the company has 5 stores that it cannot
stock liquor as a result, and until the end of the contract. Losses incurred on a daily basis are grave and severe.
This company is also alleged to have close ties with the former COO Willy Kimani. The head of security (John Kariuki) was muscled out into
early retirement when he raised the same issues after an internal investigation. The firm was blackmailed into accepting the company as it was noted that their competitors Nakumatt, Tuskys and Naivas have also embraced it. The manner which the company was awarded the contract was thus not questioned.
3. Sparkle Brands:
This company is owned by Amit Shah and was brought for general supplies and to complement manufacturers or distributors who are currently not supplying for one reason or another.
However, there are serious questions like;
• Sparkle Brands has supplied ‘counterfeit’ products for instance the Colgate supplied lacked the KEBS certification which would mean that it’s primarily for export. Always Ultra had the same issues. The hawk-eyed warehouse team caught the error and raised the concern. Where did they get these products from? Would this compromise the standards of the customers? As much as they work with suppliers directly, what other risks is Uchumi’s celebrity-CEO exposing itself to?
• The management went ahead and sacked all staff who had distinct institutional memory. Do they know that this model was tried prior to
the giant-retailer’s collapse in 2006 and subsequent bailout? The margins of this company, for instance the botched liquor outlets project eats into, are not sustainable and would
grossly hinder the recovery of the company.
• Even with Government funding, Uchumi still makes loses as most suppliers are asians and have aligned themselves with sparkle brands owned by Amit Shah whom records seem to show is an interior designer. This means that
recovery period will be longer, most suppliers of asian origin will move to sparkle and in turn supporting one while ailing the other.
4. Nairobi Kitchen:
In the past 6 weeks, the entire management
team led by the Head of Fresh Lilian Obetto have been tagging along everywhere with a supplier, and openly for that matter. Upon further
investigation, it has been discovered that Uchumi Supermarkets owes his Kunal company nearly Kshs. 40 Million. It was discovered that he “gave” Uchumi over Kshs. 20 Million more around during the same period. What was the money
for? Was it a gift? Was it a bribe? But the main red flag however is the fact that last week after payments were approved by the supplier council, he threw a tantrum at the finance department to which he questioned why Sparkle Brands had not been paid an expected amount. He even threatened staff claiming that that no one shall be paid as he has authority from the celebrity-CEO Julius Kipngetich to do whatever he wants. This raises serious questions like;
• Why is a supplier (Sparkle Brands) and Mr. Amit Shah the so-called interior designer, engagingly in active Uchumi businesses like Nairobi Kitchen? Isn’t that gross conflict of interest? Why has the celebrity-CEO and the corrupt management allowed him to have overlapping conflicts of interests?
• What role does he play in Uchumi? Is he an employee and who approved his posturing as the acting CEO?
• Is the supplier council led by Kimani Rugendo aware that someone is interfering with the payment process, delaying and dictating who should be paid and who shouldn’t?
• Won’t this compromise of the payment-agreements and terms with other suppliers? The same company run by Amit Shah has also been upgrading the kitchens around the supermarkets with new equipment. This further raises eyebrows as:
• Does Amit Shah have a valid contract to do so? If so, was the contract awarded competitively? Finally, why does Uchumi need all those kitchen, just so that celebrity-CEO Julius Kipngetich can get bribes and kickbacks?
• The security at Sarit centre have complained that the equipment are
delivered without an LPO. Most deliveries are done at night. Is this another case of
inflated prices, corruption, opportunism, management malpractice that is reminiscent of Uchumi’s past whereby Chris Kirubi purchased a Bendor Coffee Estate in Thika using money from a phantom IT modernisation project? Why does the head of fresh frustrate questions asked by the junior staff who feel intimidated?
• An old bread rack was delivered last week and a new one days later both without LPOs. The branch manager who was brought in recently, was threatened to endorse that both racks were new and was forced to resign after standing their ground.
• What would the LPOs state? Are the goods new? Who awarded the contracts to Amit Shah and his bogus company? Were the right procurement processes followed? Who approved? Was it celebrity-CEO Julius Kipngetich?
• Staff at Uchumi are working in fear of being bullied, sacked, retired, retrenched or reprimanded if they raise the above questions.
The appointment of the acting COO (Peter Mbatia) and acting CFO (Frank
Kamau) to the Supermarket, who were former Tuskys employees without proper background information/checks is the height of stupidity by the celebrity-CEO Mr. Julius Kipngetich. Is
the CEO aware that Peter still works with Nairobi Kitchen and Sparkle Brands? Is he aware that Peter was dismissed from Tuskys due to Mars
Limited (now disguised as Sparkle Brands) and their underhand dealings, collusion and corruption at Tuskys? With his so-called “broad” management experience, is the celebrity-CEO aware he just mortgaged the soul of the company to the devil?
CAPTION: Newspaper article by a bribed Business journalist Silas Apollo at Nation Media Group, which shows Amit Shah posturing as designer of kitchen. He has supplied so many to Uchumi so that Julius Kipngetich can get massive commissions and kickbacks.
The questions we raise are:
1. Can the senior management show the process followed to award the contracts to the above suppliers?
2. Is the ivory trade-linked CEO oblivious of what is happening around him? Is he benefiting from the obvious ills like the former CEO Jonathan Cianon who at one time was also upright but was coerced into dealings that led to the fall of Uchumi?
3. The resignations of the CFO (Vincent Opiyo) recently, head of revenue protection unit (Murugi Muchunu) and Finance manager (Reporting) (Alex Kagua) raises eyebrows. What led to their resignations? There is rumour that the procurement head (Sylvia Tiren) has taken emergency leave and flew out of the country, with her resignation imminent. The main question is, why are they running away from all this barely six months after joining the company? What do they know and the public doesn’t?
4. High staff turnover is rampant as staff are in fear due to constant, persistent threats and intimidation. They are following in the footsteps
of branch managers, who were forced to take early retirement after toiling for the company for years as the management claimed they were
thieves, yet there was no concrete evidence; or the direction given by the suspended audit manager who stated that there were questionable hiring and victimization schemes by celebrity-CEO Julius Kipngetich. Is the dictatorial management wiping out the old guard to bring in those aligned to their modern style of looting?
5. Is this another chicken gate or may we say kitchen-gate scam? How much money did Nairobi kitchen give to Uchumi, and how much was given to the senior managers for them to
allow a stranger to come and run operations in the company like the mercenary Artur brothers?
6. What implications does this have with the approval of Government funding? Will Government money be used to pay suppliers who have suffered and toiled with Uchumi over the years or will it pocketed by Amit Shah-linked companies so that the celebrity-CEO Julius Kipngetich can get his commission?
You will all be surprised to know that the man who replaced Julius Kipngetich as COO of Equity Bank Bhartesh Shah, is also the brother of fraudulent supplier at Uchumi Amit Shah. So have no doubt in your mind that Julius Kipngetich is behind the latest wave of scams to hit the giant retailer and also publicly-listed company.
CAPTION: Bhartesh Shah, current COO of Equity Bank, is the brother of Amit Shah, fraudulent supplier of Uchumi Supermarkets, who shares massive kickbacks with Julius Kipngetich.
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