Spur Corporation CEO Pierre van Tonder to retire in December

SOUTH AFRICA – Spur Corporation, South Africa based fast–food chains operator has announced the retirement of its long-serving Chief Executive Officer, Pierre van Tonder, after 38 years of service on 31 December 2020.

In a letter to colleagues and franchisees, Pierre said “It has been a difficult decision for me to make, but I believe that it is time that I draw to a close all of the years that I have put into this great company of ours.”

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According to the company’s press-release, Pierre joined the group in 1982 as a junior restaurant manager.

He held several senior management positions before he became a Director of Spur Steak Ranches and Spur Holdings in 1992. He was later appointed as Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer in 1996.

Under Pierre’s leadership the business showed strong growth with the group now a market-leading, multi-brand franchisor with over 640 restaurants in South Africa and internationally.

He oversaw the expansion of the brand portfolio through the in-house development of brands including Panarottis and the acquisition of smaller brands like RocoMamas, The Hussar Grill and John Dory’s, which are today among South Africa’s most recognised restaurant brands.

In the six months to end December 2019, the fast food operator reported growth in sales in Panarottis by 1.5%, RocoMamas by 6.4%, The Hussar Grill by 9.2% and John Dory’s by 6.6%.

During the year under review sales from franchised restaurants in South Africa accounting for 60.5% of the group’s total turnover increased by 4.7%, with sales from international restaurants increasing by 2.7% in rand terms and by 4.1% on a constant exchange rate.

“I am very proud of what we have achieved together over so many years, and also extremely thankful to each and every one of you for making my tenure so enjoyable and fulfilling,” Pierre said.

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Pierre also indicated that there have been some failures in his journey mentioning that the UK operations was a big disappointment in an interview with Fin24.

Spur closed its UK-based operations in 2016 to focus on its alternative international markets, including Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

Trading conditions in Australia and New Zealand continue to be challenging, with sales in the half year period declining by 20.3% following the closure of two restaurants.

Over the next five months, Pierre will be working and focusing on the smooth transition of his tasks and responsibilities to his successor.

“On behalf of my board colleagues, management, all of our employees and franchisees, we thank Pierre for his outstanding contribution to the Spur Corporation and wish him well in the next chapter of his life.” Said Spur Corporation Chairman, Mike Bosman.

The Remuneration and Nominations Committee of the board has initiated a selection process to identify a new CEO, which will consider both internal and external candidates.

Spur, like its peers, has been severely hit by the coronavirus restrictions that saw its stores closed for five weeks. From May it slowly started re-opening some of the restaurants for delivery only but has since opened all for restricted sit-down trading from June.

Spur’s restaurant sales slowed dramatically in March, dropping 46.7% over the corresponding period in 2019. Sales for the period March 16 to March 31, following the declaration of the state of disaster and lockdown, tumbled 75.7%, with trading ceasing on March 26 for the lockdown, it said.

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