Fresha milk firm in fresh bid to wind up Uchumi Supermarkets

An Uchumi outlet in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG Fresha milk processor, Githunguri Dairy, has renewed bid to have listed retailer Uchumi Supermarkets shut down and its assets seized over nearly Sh50 million debt.

In a gazette notice posted Friday, Githunguri Dairy Farmers Co-operative Society said it would pursue its oft-deferred petition for winding up filed on September, 3, 2018 to its logical conclusion.

“The said petition is directed to be heard before the High Court sitting at Nairobi and any other creditor or contributory of the said company desirous to support or oppose the making of an order on the said petition may appear on April 8 during the hearing in person or by his advocate,” it said.

Initially, the farmer-owned dairy had demanded repayment of Sh44.8 million in 2018 but Uchumi initiated a series of make-good strategies that are yet to bear fruit.

The one-time Kenya’s largest retailer’s debt is estimated at about Sh5 billion, owed banks, suppliers and manufacturers. It has engaged in numerous meetings between debtors and that sought to sort out the mess.

Last year, Uchumi offered for sale its Sh2.8 billion land to Jewel Complex Ltd associated with churchman Edward Mwai who paid a Sh330 million deposit in November 2018 but suffered a major setback after the army took over the land claiming ownership.

The move, hurt Uchumi’s equity release plans that would have helped shed off part of the debt as well as raise new capital to stock up.

Recently, Uchumi signed a new deal that would have seen the creditors slice claims by up to 30 per cent and the balance paid in instalments for the next six years.

The deal struck with unsecured creditors resolved that 40 per cent of the debt be converted into non-cumulative convertible preferred shares.

From a high of 30 outlets across Kenya with another 10 in Uganda (6) and four in Uganda, Uchumi now operates Aga Khan Walk, Adams, Jogoo Road, Meru, Eldoret, Nairobi West and Lang’ata outlets.

The listed ailing retailer has also disposed of other parcels but is yet to return to profitability.

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