RocoMamas
A previous RocoMamas campaign for one of its less typical burgers. (RocoMamas)
  • The RocoMamas burger chain is now primarily a takeaway business.
  • For the Spur group overall, deliveries via Mr D Food and Uber Eats have become a very serious source of revenue.
  • And at least one of the virtual-kitchen brands Spur introduced during the pandemic, Bento burgers, looks like it may stick around.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

By revenue, the RocoMamas burger chain is now a takeaway operation – and the overall Spur group that owns it is not very far behind, its interim results published on Tuesday show.

In the six months to the end of December, 53% of RocoMamas' total restaurant sales were takeaway, Spur said. After takeaway sales more than doubled (up by 108%), the larger group now counts 27% of its sales as takeaways.

That came as a surprise.

"The group’s brands have been predominantly targeted at sit-down customers – the impact of not being able to serve the sit-down market was therefore expected to be more pronounced," Spur told its investors.

At one point in 2020 Spur declined to open its restaurants again when it became legally possible, saying it anticipated ruinous losses should it try to trade. 

See also | Spur restaurants will not be opening when hard lockdown ends for fear of ‘catastrophic losses’

In the end, Spur reported revenues down a little over 40% for the last six months of 2020, but still recorded a profit of R30 million – down from R117 million the year before.

That was, in part, because Spur is now very big on Mr D Food. The Spur brand more than doubled sales via Mr D Food, the group said, and including its other brands such as John Dory’s and Panarottis, sales via Mr D Food were up 72% compared to the last half of 2019.

Sales via Uber Eats were up 41%, Spur said.

Combined with reduced restrictions, things are now looking good in parts of its business.

"By early February 2021, RocoMamas had recovered and was trading close to the levels of the previous year," it said.

See also | SA can't get enough of RocoMamas 'smashburgers' - and now they're heading for India and the Middle East

Things are different, though.

"Consumers are opting to dine closer to home at local neighbourhood restaurants which has resulted in a decline in foot traffic in larger shopping malls," Spur said. "Customers are gravitating to their trusted brands to ensure a quality, reliable meal experience for their spend, which is now under pressure. Younger consumers are embracing change and willing to try new options, explore different brands and service offerings."

As part of its pandemic response, Spur launched experimental virtual-kitchen brands, which exist only on delivery platforms. After a staggered introduction, it had 423 restaurants participating across "the wide range" of such brands, it said.

At least one looks like it may stick around: on Bento burgers it saw "an encouraging re-order rate of approximately 25%", said Spur. 

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

Receive a daily news update on your cellphone. Or get the best of our site emailed to you

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.