December 6, 2017 / 8:08 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-CEO of Kenya's Uchumi Supermarkets resigns

(Adds details, background)

NAIROBI, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The chief executive officer of Kenya’s Uchumi Supermarkets Julius Kipng’etich, who was hired to revive the loss-making retailer, has resigned, the company said.

The troubles at Uchumi, and the implosion of privately held Nakumatt, have opened the door to foreign chains such as France’s Carrefour to operate franchises.

The retailer’s board of directors said the CEO had decided to leave to pursue personal interests. Kipng’etich, who has a reputation as a turnaround specialist, was hired at a time the chain had reported large financial losses.

He leaves behind stores with empty shelves, as suppliers have shunned the chain, and an incomplete search for a strategic investor to inject cash into the business.

Kipng’etich, who did not respond to calls from Reuters seeking comment, has however managed to narrow the losses.

Its pretax loss narrowed to 1.66 billion shillings for the year to end June from 2.67 billion shillings in the same period in 2016. In the year to end June 2015, it posted a pretax loss of 3.51 billion shillings.

Earlier in his tenure, he oversaw the closure of Uchumi’s loss-making Ugandan subsidiary, more than halved the workforce and announced plans for land sales to raise working capital.

Uchumi said it had appointed Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed, its chief finance officer, as acting CEO.

Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Duncan Miriri and David Evans

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