Last year marked 50 years since Spur Corp founder Allen Ambor opened the first Spur restaurant, the Golden Spur in Newlands, Cape Town. It should have been a great year for the 613-store franchise group. Instead it turned into a nightmare. This began in March, with a confrontation between a white man and a black woman in Johannesburg’s Texamo Spur. It led to the man being banned from Spur restaurants, and unleashed an avalanche of anti-Spur rhetoric on social media. The fallout sent the Spur Steak Ranch division’s sales tumbling 14.9% in the last quarter of its year to June 2017, and a further 14% in the first quarter of its year to June 2018. Though the decline eased to 5.3% in the quarter to December 2017, half-year Spur restaurant sales were still down 9.3%, at R2.24bn. Many franchisees were hurt badly. At the height of the furore, 180 of 286 SA Spur restaurants were receiving support, says long-serving CEO Pierre van Tonder. Support for franchisees meant Spur’s franchise and oth...

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