The Covid-19 pandemic will go away with many businesses.
Tusker Mattresses Limited, the owner of Tuskys, the retail giant is teetering on the brink of collapse; the signs are all bare now.
After more than 40 days of cessation of movement and curfew; measures put in place by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus, Tuskys is collapsing for lack of enough revenue to service loans, pay supplies and maintain recurrent expenses such as salaries, rents and other services.
The collapse is being documented online
A simple search of the word ‘tuskys’, ‘tuskys stock’ or ‘tuskys shelf’ on social media platforms, i.e. Twitter and Facebook tells the story of the struggling retailer.
The firm which was strong after the collapse of its competitor Nakumatt, has seen its market share cut by Naivas, and new entrants Quickmart (including Tumaini Supermarkets).
Analysts blame management wrangles at the retailer for some of the instability.
Road to decline
Some accuse Chief Executive Dan Githua of bad business practices and taking advantage of the family-owned business that is full of ‘illiterate’ people in management.
Two years ago, Dan Githua introduced some internship project at Tuskys which those who look at matters in a shallow manner considered to ingenious. Nothing could be further from the truth. The project was a well crafted scheme to lower the cost of human resource to the company and benefit Dan Githua’s recruitment and outsourcing firm Artemis.
Artemis has been accused of employee mistreatment. Its role was to use cheap labour gotten under the guise of internship programme, where the ‘interns’ would do works that a full employee would. Many full-time employees were afterwards sacked under unclear circumstances as untrained interns took over such important functions as stock-taking and customer care.
Tuskys began its road to decline.
CEO Githua is also accused of hounding out professionals who joined him in the revamped and professional Tuskys management after 2015. It was easy for him to work with the ‘illiterate’ bunch from the family that owned the supermarket chain, other than the Professional Human Resources, Marketing, Operations, Communications and ICT who would easily call him out for his fraudulent and wayward behavior.
With the exit of the professionals, Dan was left to rule with fiat. He would exploit the lack of proper systems at Tuskys, where frequent reports of orders not being fully delivered or supplies not matching what was ordered soon became he a normal occurrence. It is reported that, a common report there is a instance when almost half the ordered stock disappeared with the suppliers insisting that they delivered the order while the chain disputing that.
Employees also faked robberies and theft to hide pilferage.
A few months back, Tuskys introduced a ‘anti-theft mechanism’, where it blamed and penalized the intern-filled staff of theft and ordered them that if anything is stolen from their branch, everyone’s salary would be cut to recover the stolen item.
“Reference is made to the Tuskys Daily Stock Reconciliation Policy. In reference to the policy, all losses declared everyday should be attached to an individual responsible for the particular stock. As earlier communicated, the company shall also be deducting any loss from the staff involve, Kindly print all daily losses and have staff sign against the losses per section (similar to the procedure for daily cashier variances). Also, have the same variance posted on the notice boards everyday with names”, the internal memo sent in January 2020 stated
As Tuskys, teeters on the brink of collapse, closing some few branches over blaming the decision on low numbers occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic, jittery suppliers have called on the govt to help; fearing that the worse would happen like it did with Nakumatt.
The troubles began early, but only noticeable now in 2020 after covid-19 stroke.
In November, one of the supermarket’s suppliers stated that they went bankrupt and their business was being auctioned for lack of servicing their loan at Family Bank, because Tuskys had delayed with payments.
He had sought audience with the owner of Tuskys, over payments for supplies made, but it was futile. He sent the following to one of the local blogs:
This is to regrettably inform you that the last bit of our company has been auctioned by family bank this morning and so far I have nothing more to lose. You have refused to respond to any of our communications and remained non-committal to our payments since the last time over a month ago when your Mr. Leonard Mupalia informed us that all our pending documents were submitted to the GM for final approval. I regret very much this is happening’.
The govt, through the ministry of Industrialization CS Betty Maina has put the Joram Kamau – founded supermarket under watch.
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