KENYA – Sketchers, an American lifestyle and performance footwear, has embarked on an expansion drive in Kenya after the collapse of Nakumatt Supermarket, its local dealer.

The local distributor, Phirdos Kenya, has announced a US$5 million (KSh500 million) stores investment over the next two years. Phirdos Kenya says it plans to open more stores in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret.

On 18th January 2020, the brand opened two new outlets, one at the Village Market and the other at Sarit Centre-the biggest in Sub Saharan Africa. The brand also operates another store at Thika Road Mall.

“We are seeing many opportunities to grow our retail stores coverage in East Africa and particularly Kenya,” Fat-hi Basheikh, Phirdos Kenya Country Manager, said in a statement.

“We have been trading in the UK, US, Europe and Middle East for over a decade but with a muted presence in Kenya over the last two years. We are now ready to service this market in a big way.”

Phirdos has been distributing and operating the Skechers and Clarks footwear franchise after Nakumatt Holdings — which previously held the franchises — collapsed.

Nakumatt’s poor financial position saw Sketchers give Phirdos Kenya a nod to franchise its brand in the country.

The defunct retailer had said it had invested about US$12 million (KSh1.2 billion) to expand Clarks and Skechers before its collapse, which in turn meant the closure of the outlets.

Footwear retailer Bata Kenya has also been selling Clarks and Skechers branded footwear since 2014, sourcing from the local distributor.

Phirdos’ expansion comes as the apparel segment has seen increased activity, with pioneer brands expanding or shutting down and new entrants coming in to fill demand.

Competition in the formal fashion market is intensifying with the expansion of more brands including Mango and Hugo Boss.

Woolworths has been increasing its footprint with a total 11 stores, eight in Nairobi and three in outlying towns of Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret

South African fashion retailer Mr Price (MRP) in 2018 acquired 12 stores as part of its buyout of the franchise from its former partner Deacons East Africa.

The firm has other stores in Nigeria and two in South Africa.