Many Kenyans living in Western and North Rift regions of Kenya and even parts of other East African countries might not know much about one of the biggest business operators in the region Khetia’s supermarkets despite having bought or used one or another commodity from the company.
With diverse business endeavors in the region ranging from Supermarkets, distribution centers, transport services and processing of some commodities among other services, the company has become one of the leading business hub in the area.
We are privileged to bring to our readers an inside story of the Khetia Drapers including its origin, how it has grown over the years since the idea was started by the original Khetia himself three decades ago at Laini Moja in Kitale town.
Mzee Durlabhram Khetia or DS Khetia came in Kenya from India in the early 1970s as a Hindu priest send by the Hindu community back at home to come and administer the holy word to their worshipers in Kenya.
The Kenyan Hindu worshipers had requested for a priest to be sent to them after starting their temple in the town and thus, Khetia was picked upon to take the mandate of preaching in the country.
After serving for several years, Khetia started a retail shop at Laini Moja Street in May 1982 which he later in 1985 registered it as a limited company.
As if that was not enough Khetia went ahead to start a wholesale business within Kitale town between 1986 and 1987 which gave birth to new realms of business that saw the initiation of a distribution division of the company in which his sons participated personally in selling goods in various towns and centers including Bungoma, Wenuye, Moi’s bridge, Matunda and pokot districts among many other towns within their reach.
The new venture of distribution also saw the Khetia family explore more business ventures which ushered in a wholesale unit being opened at Webuye town in Bungoma County in 1989 and another one in Bungoma town the following year.
The supermarket division first came into existence under the Khetia Drappers in the year with the pioneer supermarket of Khetia’s Euro supermarket in Bungoma town in 1994 and later in 1998 Khetias Crossroads within the same town was opened.
After expanding the business leaning towards the Western region in Bungoma and Webuye towns, Khetias did not forget their own home town from where the idea started in Kitale town hence had to open a landmark Giga Mart supermarket in the town in March 2005 which is also the biggest superstore in the North Rift region.
The company despite starting the supermarket division, revamping and expanding of the wholesale and distribution departments was not put to rest but instead new wholesales were expanded in Kitale and Bungoma towns in 2003 which bore more fruits to the company that diversified its businesses more through starting a mineral water processing plant in Kitale.
The Kabarnet mineral Water processing was started by the company in October 2006.
The company’s business star continued shining as time went by and thus new units were still to come into existence as in the year 2009 Khetia’s headquarters and Business Park was opened in Kitale which also marked the landmark official opening of Kitale distribution center whereby the company became the leading distributor in the entire North Rift and Western parts of the country.
The businesses run by Khetia’s
At the moment the company is running five supermarkets,three wholesale outlets in Bungoma, Webuye and Kitale, distributions in Eldoret, Kitale and Bungoma and the mineral water plant based in Kitale.
The supermarkets include; Khetia’s GigaMart in Kitale, Khetia’s euro, Cross Roads and Center point that was recently acquired from the former Shariffs Supermarket in Bungoma town and Khetia’s Express in Mumias within Kakamega county.The sixth supermarket is under construction in Eldoret town and shall be unveiled later by the company.
The company distributes its goods to major towns and grassroot areas to as far as Lokichoggio, Lodwar, Burnt forest and other border towns such as Busia, Suam and Malaba along the Kenya Uganda border.
However business operators from neighboring countries including Uganda and Southern Sudan purchase commodities from the company’s outlets within the operators’ reach.
According to Ashok Khetia one of the directors of Khetia Drappers who is also one of the five sons who are the company’s directors, the company has plans to expand their services nationally and even have outlets in the newborn republic of Southern Sudan but after peace has been fully restored.
“Yes we have plans to make the company go national and we also intent to start our other outlets in Southern sudan after the war between them and Sudan is over,” said Ashok in an exclusive interview with West FM in his office in Kitale.
Employment creation and corporate social responsibility
Khetia’s company has a total of 1308 permanent workers spread in all its business ventures across the regions it covers with 20 per cent being women.
The company also plays diverse roles in its corporate social responsibility program whereby it sponsors various projects within its areas of operation.
Among the projects there is educational sponsorship whereby the company sponsors three bright children annually to join secondary schools; it contributes towards building schools, churches, hospitals, cleaning programs in towns and maintenance of some round-abouts especially within Kitale town.
It has also been in the forefront in promoting environment by being involved in tree planting exercises annually by contributing 100 tree seedlings towards the programs in different institutions.
Acquisition of products
The company gets it products from manufacturing companies within the country and a few others imported from foreign countries such as united Kingdom, China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt and South Africa among others.
Most of the products imported from foreign countries include electronics, household goods, mobile phones and accessories, furniture and many others deemed necessary by the market demand.
Despite the company’s upward trend in achieving and expanding its business empire, the company just like any other company or business operator has not been exempted from challenges along its road to success.
Poor infrastructure especially roads within Western and North Rift regions where it majorly operates has been a major impediment to their businesses especially while transporting goods to their customers or to their outlets such as supermarkets and distributions within the area.
Supplying of commodities to Lodwar and Lokichoggio to access their Southern Sudan customers has been a major concern bearing in mind that the road from Kitale through Kapenguria to Lodwar is in a bad state.
Insecurity within the region has also impacted negatively towards the company’s attainment of its full potential in offering the services. Kitale town in particular has denied the company full exploitation of its services especially the supermarket unlike in other major towns where supermarkets can operate to as late as 10pm here they are hurriedly closed shortly before 7pm fearing for their security hence late customers get stranded whenever they want to purchase goods.
Ashok said that the company is willing to extend its time of running the supermarkets if the regions security can be improved to satisfactory standards.
He also cited the residence of most people living in Trans Nzoia noting that most of them do not stay within the town as a bigger percentage retire back to their homes in their farms in the countryside hence always do their shopping early enough before 7pm.
The director further pointed out that the diverse businesses of the company have created thousands of job opportunities both directly and indirectly as their products reach the very small retailers with canteens or small shops who access them through the wholesales and other outlets to enhance their small businesses and thus earn living from them.
Adapted from www.westfm.co.ke