By Joel Ogwang
Tracing the origin of Quality Super-market, one of the most prosperous business ventures by Ugandan entrepre-neurs, is testament to why determination, hard work, deftness and, above all, luck, are pertinent ingredi-ents for success.In fact, the tale of its emergency is scintillating, rendering credence to an axiom- ordinary people do extra-ordinary things.It started with a young couple in 1980 setting up a grocery on Plot 14, Mar-tin Road in Old Kampala.
There aim was to meet customer’s subsistence needs. Swimming past the storms that ‘murder’ most local enterprises even before their first birthdays, Quality Supermarket has been grown into a multibil-lion investment. Whichever way one looks at it, Eng. Apollo and wife, Mary Mutungi, pulled-off an extra-ordinary feat as they looked out for a safety-net in preparation for Diana Baguma, their daughter’s birth.
Growing in stock and sales, the business grew and, by 1994, expanded into Plot 4, Martin road where Quality Supermarket was started and registered as a hypermarket, housed on one floor. In 1999, it was expanded into a fully-fledged invest-ment on a three-floor permanent structure. Its growth continued that, by December 2006, Ntinda shopping mall, a branch of the supermar-ket, was opened in Ntinda town.
In March 2008, Quality shopping village, standing tall on a Lubowa hill, was opened. The last branch, at least for now, will be opened in Namugongo along the Naalya- Kyaliwajjala Road by the end of April 2012, completing a quadruplet. Quality Supermarket is, arguably, among the pioneers of hypermarkets in Uganda.Apollo Mutungi is now the chief executive and Mary Mutungi the managing director, while Diana Baguma is the director.
Charlotte Kukundakwe is the general manager.The concept of decentral-ising the branches, moving away from the hustle and bustle in the Kampala city centre, was undertaken to make shopping more convenient and exciting for customers, says Baguma.“It (the concept) was developed from Europe where malls are out of town,” she says. “People don’t like inconveniences of shopping amid traffic jams, parking difficulty and hustling.”At any of its four well-stocked branches, security is guaranteed, with Close Circuit surveillance televi-sion (CCTV) cameras stra-tegically placed to record any pre-planned lawless-ness, complimented by armed security personnel.
Parking on its paved ex-pansive avenues has been made more friendly. The Martin road branch has space a 40 cars compared to the Lubowa branch which can park 350 cars and the Namugongo outlet, occupying 4, 800 Sq, metres of the total 15, 000 Sq. metres set to be the biggest offering ample parking space for up to 500 vehicles.
There is also space for other social amenities like a pharmacy, boutiques, tours and travel agencies, saloon, hardware and fur-niture shops, banks among others. At its four branch-es, Quality Supermarkets offers a wide range of attractive products at competitive prices that a customer cannot resist the allure of picking one.“We have products that meet demands of our up-scale and regular custom-ers at all our branches,” says Kukundakwe. With VISA and Master Cards, supplied by Com-bined Forex Bureau and Barclay’s Bank transac-tions for customers who are afraid of carrying hard-cash, shopping at the Lubowa branch is a marvel.
The supermarket has stood the test of the economic hard times exacerbated by the global financial meltdown and succeeded in taking ser-vices closer to its customers. The sight of clean, well-spaced rows makes shopping even more fun. Shopping at Quality is an experience one would only miss if they failed to visit the supermarket.While other supermarkets are jostling to occupy every space in the city-centre, Quality Supermarket is moving out of Kampala.
“We have big plans of oc-cupying different parts of Kampala, before ventur-ing out of the city,” says Baguma. “Until then, the sky is the limit.”From a sole proprietor-ship, employing only the couple, into a state-of- the-art world-class shop-ping centre employing 150 workers, Quality Supermarket has brought a new face into city shopping. “We are striving to provide quality staff to match our (qual-ity) products who serve at customers’ convenience,” says Baguma.
And, like any other business, the growth from a grocery into a supermarket has come with its own challenges.But, with a forward look, determination and hard work, success has finally been arrived at. “Our strength lies in identifying and satisfying the needs and tastes of our customers,” says Kukundakwe. “We do enough market survey to identify what customers in all our branches need, before embarking on supplying them.
”Asserting its authority as a giant supplier of quality and durable products, Quality Supermarket has also cemented its name as a one-stop shopping centre, offering home lighting and cooking apparatus like Shell gas, Total gaz and LPG Oxy-gas cans.So, for any customer or one-timer in the vicinity of any of its branches, make Quality Supermarket your one-stop shopping centre; it is mesmerising!