Nairobi’s mall boom sets the stage for a fierce supermarket struggle

The Waterfront mall opened in Nairobi on Jamhuri Day (Kenyan independence day – December 12th). With close to 18,600m² of GLA, the 20 hectare site boasts more than 1,000 parking spaces, a 14,000m² artificial lake and a 1.2km running and walking track. With these leisure facilities and regular cultural events, management are clearly hoping to tap into the “lifestyle mall” trend.

Walmart subsidiary Massmart is an anchor tenant with its Game banner (its second Kenyan outlet), and supermarket chain Shoprite is set to join it, having signed a lease in December. While the mall’s management claims to have leased 63% of the Waterfront’s GLA, Game is the only store that is currently open. However, signage indicates that other banners will include Samsung, Bata, casual dining chain Big Square and café chain Java House. With the opening of the Waterfront, there are now 13 malls in the Nairobi metropolitan area with a GLA of more than 15,000m², up from just five in 2012.

With The Hub (Carrefour and Decathlon), Karen Crossroads (Tuskys), Galleria (Carrefour), Waterfront (Shoprite and Game) and the upcoming The Well (Chandarana), there will soon be five modern shopping malls with large supermarkets on the same road within a 5km radius. Given that this area has a fairly low population density (albeit a relatively affluent one) and limited out-of-zone traffic, the fight for market share is likely to be fierce.