Aaron Thuo established Kenyan retail outfit Vituzote in 2014. Since then, it has grown both in size and stature. Not just a retailer, Vituzote also distributes to the Kenyan market. Kitchenware International learns more…
Now five-stores strong, Vituzote was established in 2014 by Kenyan born Aaron Thuo. After nearly a decade spent studying and living in the US, the intrepid businessman returned home and immediately noticed a gap in the market. “I was struck by the dozens of enquiries from friends and relatives on where they could get quality housewares like the ones I had brought back from abroad,” he tells Kitchenware International, adding he noticed his own shopping experience locally “while settling back down” revealed a gap for variety, options, quality and price.
“Having experienced online shopping abroad and working at technology company Comcast in ecommerce, I was exposed to what the future may hold for companies venturing into ecommerce in developing countries,” Aaron says.
It was then he launched vituzote.com – which initially had humble beginnings. Aaron began his enterprise by purchasing well researched products from Amazon.com and packing them from his balcony at night. At the same time, he was working during the day for another local internet company giving him further insight into the local internet adoption, trends and gaps in the housewares space.
“As one of the first pioneers into the ecommerce in the country, we faced an issue of trust as this was still a nascent industry with customers used to physical touch of goods,” Aaron tells us. Customers, however, were flocking to his house in their dozens in the evenings to buy goods and from there the company begun formalising trade partnerships directly with manufacturers and looking to set up physical experience centres.
Today, Vituzote has a direct relationship with suppliers spanning four continents including brands such as Lifetime Brands, Lodge MFG, Swan, Tower, Elho BV, Stolzle, Ariika, Nevilles UK and dozens more.
“Our physical locations now include Kenya’s premium retail shopping malls and we serve customers throughout the East African region. We provide a seamless experience between online shopping and brick and mortar and are the number one choice in Kenya for kitchen and dining items, and increasingly much more,” says Aaron.
Along with their own five retail stores, Vituzote distributes to Kenya’s major supermarkets as well as other retailers. In late 2022, however, they expanded their customer offering to include tableware and light catering equipment to the hospitality industry, including lodges and camps in world famous conservancies.
“We are also now focusing on growing the HoReCa segment of the market,” Aaron says. “International hotel and restaurants setting up in-country operations as well as local organic boutique restaurants that would rival those in western world capitals insist on world class quality and keeping up with global trends in food service and display.”
And all this, on the back of Vituzote’s hardest year to date.
“Global shocks post pandemic including supplier stock-outs, price increases, currency fluctuation and logistical delays in part caused by Covid and the Ukraine war have made 2022 our toughest trading year.”
The full interview appears in the latest issue of Kitchenware International. Read it below…