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Game Store closes shop in Uganda after failing to find local buyer

Massmart operates one Game store in Uganda which has been operating for close to 20 years, employing more than 300 Ugandans. The retailer also has three stores in Kenya and one in Tanzania.

Massmart Holdings, the operators of Game Store in Kampala on Wednesday announced they had opted to close their only outlet in Lugogo after efforts to find local investors to buy it went futile.

The South African giant retailer said last year in March that it was in discussions to sell all its Game stores in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania to stem losses in that struggling part of its business.

The company Chief Executive Officer Mitch Slape then noted that during the review, Massmart would explore the option of engaging potential buyers to improve the performance of some of its stores under the management of investors and entrepreneurs with a better understanding of local market conditions.

However, in a statement released on Tuesday, October 4, the company said the review had been ongoing over the last 12 months before a decision to close had been reached.

“Massmart initiated a process over a 12-month period to investigate… the opportunity to sell our East and West African stores to local investors. Unfortunately, this initiative did not deliver a meaningful outcome,” the company said in a statement.

“One possible way forward now is to consider closing our Game store in Uganda and we have therefore initiated potential store closure consultations with our staff members in the potentially affected stores,” it added.

However, Neville Hatfield, the Vice President of Game merchandise assured employees that they are finding the best possible alternatives for them.

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“Our present focus is to ensure a transparent consultation process with our staff members and their representatives after which we will update you about the agreed next steps. It is difficult to anticipate the timing of the consultation process but please be assured that we will revert to you as soon as we have collective clarity on the way forward.”

In East Africa, Massmart operates one Game store in Uganda which has been operating for close to 20 years, employing more than 300 Ugandans. The retailer also has three stores in Kenya and one in Tanzania.

Massmart is Africa’s third-largest distributor of consumer goods and one of the biggest retailers of general merchandise, liquor, home improvement equipment and supplies and wholesaler of basic foods.

The retail business has been undergoing a number of challenges in the last two years, worsened by Covid-19 related lockdowns, dampened consumer spending resulting from subdued earnings, runaway inflation and an increase in the cost of business.

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The exit of Massmart’s Game Stores now joins other retail chains including Shoprite, Nakumatt, Uchumi and Tuskys that have in the past seven years exited the Ugandan market after struggling with business.

However, the retail business is currently leveraging on the growing digital experience to invest in online trading and building partnerships with the likes of Jumia

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