Deacons East Africa put up for sale by administrator

Apparel retailer Deacons East Africa has been put up for sale by its court-appointed administrator. Deacons operates stores under such banners as 4u2, Adidas, Bossini, and FNF in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. Previously, it was also the regional franchisee for South African brands Mr Price and Woolworths. In Nairobi, Deacons has stores in such as malls as Sarit Centre, Two Rivers, Yaya Centre, Village Market, and Garden City.

In November 2018, Deacons chairman Sam Oduor blamed the retailer’s decline on the widespread closure of Nakumatt and Uchumi supermarkets, as these were anchor tenants in many of the malls in which it operated. However, this explanation belies the 60-year-old chain’s deeper problem – an expansion programme that was hamstrung by the fact that its retail offer has fallen behind the times and become somewhat staid, as evidenced by its loss of the Mr Price and Woolworths franchises over recent years.

Deacons made an after-tax loss of KES841 million (USD8.3 million) in FY2017, compared with a loss of KES276 million (USD2.7 million) during the previous year. During the same period, its sales declined by 13%, to KES2.0 billion (USD19.8 million). In January 2019, Deacon’s administrators revealed that it had debts of KES1.9 billion (USD18.8 million).