Former CEO of Taste Holdings Dylan Pienaar at the Starbucks in Rosebank. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL/ FREDDY MAVUNDA
Former CEO of Taste Holdings Dylan Pienaar at the Starbucks in Rosebank. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL/ FREDDY MAVUNDA

Taste Holdings, which is moving away from fast foods to luxury goods, announced on Tuesday that CEO Dylan Pienaar had stepped down with immediate effect.

Taste, the share price of which slumped from R5.25 in July 2015 to 4c, has recently offloaded food businesses in a desperate bid to exit the fast-food industry. These include the Fish & Chip Co and Maxi’s.

The company recently announced the sale of the SA Starbucks franchise for R7m.

Taste said Pienaar was stepping down “given the revision in Taste’s strategy to become a luxury-goods business and having successfully navigated the sale and transition of Starbucks, restaurant chain Maxi’s and the Fish & Chip Co”.

The struggling company, which has lost 51.82% of its value since the beginning of 2019, said Duncan Crosson, current head of the Taste Luxury Goods Division, had been appointed group CEO with effect from the same date.

Before joining Taste Holdings, Pienaar spent 10 years at Grand Parade Investments Limited (GPI), mainly as its CFO and more recently as the CEO of its food division.

Taste said in November that it decided to exit food businesses because it could not secure the funding required to expand the food brands. It said that to achieve positive cash flow, Starbucks had to expand to 150-200 outlets, while Domino’s would need as many as 280 restaurants.

In the company’s year to end-February, it had 12 Starbucks stores and 81 Domino’s Pizza outlets. It said it could not secure funding for such expansion “given the current structure of the business and existing market conditions”.

After the disposal, Taste would consist of NWJ, Arthur Kaplan and World’s Finest Watches.

With Katharine Child

njobenis@businesslive.co.za