Last week’s public spat between the Ndegwa family and troubled retail chain Nakumatt over the occupancy of Nairobi’s Junction Mall has exposed the intensity of bad debts war the supermarket is fighting against wealthy industrialists it owes billions of shillings.
The Ndegwas, who are successors of former Central Bank of Kenya governor Philip Ndegwa, on Saturday night, ejected Nakumatt from the Junction Mall where it holds a majority stake, citing failure by the retailer to pay the tens of millions of shillings it owes in rent arrears.
The contractual disputes, which have been boiling under for a year, finally burst to the surface, dragging the reclusive Ndegwa family into the limelight they have avoided for years despite having their footprints all over the national economy.
“We have been having discussions with Nakumatt for about a year now. At some point, they owed us over Sh100 million in rent arrears but that now stands at between Sh50 million and Sh75 million,” a source close to the Ndegwa family told the Business Daily.
“If an anchor tenant at a shopping mall is not trading well, they negatively impact other tenants.”
Nakumatt on Monday secured a court injunction, allowing it to continue operating in the 13-year-old, 155-tenant shopping complex, which the Ndegwas, and at least two other shareholders, built with financing from the private equity firm Actis.