SOUTH AFRICA – Spur Corporation, a steakhouse franchise restaurant chain’s executive chairman Allen Ambor will step down in a year’s time after spending 51 years at the company he founded, set for March 1 2019.

The nominations committee of the board- after Ambor serves a 12-month notice period- would soon start looking for a new chairman, the restaurant franchisor said.

Ambor has already reduced his interest in the company, having sold his 3-million directly held shares in May 2017.

At last count, his family trust owned about 465,000 Spur shares, which at current prices is worth about US$1.09 million.

Ambor opened the first Spur restaurant in Newlands, Cape Town, in 1967.

He has been executive chairman of the board since the company was listed on the JSE in 1986.

“He has overseen the growth of the business from a single outlet to a multibrand franchisor with over 600 restaurants in SA and internationally,” group CEO Pierre van Tonder said.

Spur has materially outperformed the JSE all share index since the turn of the millennium.

The stock has risen by a factor of 23 over that time, from US$0.10 to US$2.34, while the all share index has grown by a factor of seven.

But Spur’s stock has pulled back from the highs reached in 2015, of around US$3.41, in part because consumers in SA are under increasing pressure.

In the six months to End-December, Spur’s operating profit margin fell from nearly to 40% to less than 35%, after margins of flagship Spur Steak Ranches and smaller brands such as Panarottis, John Dory’s, The Hussar Grill and Captain DoRegos eroded markedly.

Franchised restaurant sales in the country were 3% lower as political instability and higher living costs negatively affected consumer sentiment and discretionary spending, Van Tonder said.

Business Day