Interviewer: Jacqueline Ndanu
InStore: Can you briefly introduce RETRAK to our readers?
Ms. Wambui: RETRAK was created with the main objective being to provide retailers with a central representative body to put across their agenda and retail trade concerns to state agencies, parliament and other bodies to facilitate an enabling business environment for their benefit.
It gives a unified approach to advocating retail interests and trade concerns. Our vision is to be the voice of the retail industry in Kenya. RETRAK champions the success of retailers and related businesses by promoting local to local businesses, we use our voice to protect the rights of retailers, we are committed to educating and inspiring the retail community through events and programs.
RETRAK is committed to our members and the community. We always try our level best to be as open, honest, and direct communicators, we are professional and accountable. RETRAK team members are collaborators who promote connectivity, change and creativity and promote excellence in ourselves and each other.
InStore: What are the benefits of membership?
Ms. Wambui: The First benefit is influence: RETRAK is a powerful and unified retail voice. We aim to drive and shape the retail agenda whilst making sure one’s own business priorities are represented. All retail members are invited to input into the RETRAK’s POLICY
Action Groups. The second benefit is to advocate on behalf of the Retail Industry, as well as researching and making Policies.
We also do Lobbying & Presentation: RETRAK campaigns and lobbies for the retail sector ensuring that the industry’s voice is heard at the relevant platforms. This is further enhanced by the fact that RETRAK is an active member of KEPSA which allows us direct association with the government and allows us to participate in the process of law-making.
Last but not least important benefit is the fact that RETRAK organizes events that are the ideal forum for our members to meet up and discuss the latest industry issues. We have famous training organized by RETRAK which brings the retailers knowledge in Kenya at a higher level.
InStore: Can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers? How did your career path go?
Ms. Wambui: I am a graduate teacher who went into accounting then preferred more contact with people than numbers that made me move to Human resource management and I finally settled on Administration which led me to my current position.
InStore: How do you evaluate the development of Kenyan brands over the last twenty years on the Kenyan market?
Ms. Wambui: Local FMCGs have grown significantly over the last twenty years in terms of quality and packaging. This is despite the continued and increased competition from foreign brands. Homegrown brands such as Bidco, Kevian, Lyons Maid, Kenylon, Peptang products compete very well with foreign brands. They have taken advantage of their price advan- tage over imports to penetrate to all corners of the Kenyan Market.
They have Invested in improved quality, packaging and research into product development which continues to be made by locals.
InStore: How can foreign chains support the development of Kenya Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector?
Ms. Wambui: By listing local FMCG products, especially placement on the shelves, reasonable trading terms. They also need assistance in understanding the requirements necessary to get listed in the chains. Foreign chains bring best practices.
InStore: What are some of the challenges that you record in the retail industry and how can they be solved?
Ms. Wambui: There is a lack of professional staff: This can be sorted by setting up retail training schools and starting a career path in retail.
Inefficiency in stock management which leads to stock-outs or excess stock level. Retail chains can solve this by investing in the end to end inventory systems that terminate at the point of sale.
They can also invest in automation of systems which are less reliant on the human factor.
Shrinkage: Retail industry can invest in security systems that put checks on stocks and employees within the outlets.
Unhealthy competition has resulted in nonstrategic expansion. Retail chains need to have a well thought out branch expansion strategy with well thought to location, stocking, staff and costs.
InStore: How are you connected with similar associations in other countries?
Ms. Wambui: Sadly, we are currently not connected to any foreign associations but we are reaching out to other retail associations in different countries. These partnerships would be excellent for knowledge sharing for our members as we seek to promote best practices within retail.
InStore: How do you like InStore Kenya project?
Ms. Wambui: Great! I am very excited about it because the retailers will get a source of reliable industry information, ranging from news on new entries in terms of players, products and technology retailing to retail, knowledge share from developed markets etc. We welcome InStore to Kenya and look forward to working together to grow the industry.
InStore: Where do you see Kenyan retailers in 5 years?
Ms. Wambui: Brilliantly bright!
The next 5 years there will be greater investments in technology focusing on achieving efficiencies through inventory and financial systems. There will also be increased professionalism in the sector. This will lead to efficient cash flow management resulting in timely payment of suppliers.
We will have done sufficient training of staff to create a Retail path and curriculum in Retail industry rendering employees with a sense of job ownership. We will also have Small stores which are more consumer-oriented.
There will be better pricing models increasing the basket value, continued growth in Tier two and three.
The share of Modern Trade to traditional trade will be standing at 45% to 55%. We shall be having a fully grown environment with Multinational players, playing a critical role.
Back end operations will be at the center of the successful retailing and we shall be having at least one or two Distribution Centers. Online Retailing will move from an insignificant 0.3% to 7%.