(RocoMamas)
  • The Spur restaurant group just barely managed to keep its sales flat in the last year, and predicts trouble to come.
  • But its RocoMamas chain increased sales by nearly a third, and Spur plans to keep opening an average of at least one new outlet a month.
  • RocoMamas just landed in Australia, but there are already plans for locations in India, Saudi Arabia, and possibly Cyprus.

The Spur group plans to open its first ever restaurant in India in this financial year, it said on Thursday – a RocoMamas outlet. It also plans to open a RocoMamas in Saudi Arabia, and is "in advanced negotiations" to expand the brand in Cyprus, just months after opening the first restaurant in Australia.

The rapid international rollout is unusual for a group that has been cautions since being burned in China a decade ago, and has recently closed about as many foreign outlets as it opened.

But while fast food and casual dining is struggling in SA overall, RocoMamas is flying.

See also: Steers and Wimpy's parent company is writing off up to R449 million because its fancy-schmancy UK burger joint is bleeding it dry

In the year to the end of June its total restaurant sales increase by 0.6%, Spur said in results released on Thursday. Some of its brands, such as the 17 pricier Hussar grill restaurants, showed decent growth, but even that chain saw "increasing pressure" on customers from a struggling economy, Spur said.

And overall "discretionary spend is under growing pressure which is contributing to a continuing decline in restaurant and shopping centre foot traffic," the group warned.

At its flagship Spur Steak Ranches and at the Panarottis pizza chain, with 368 restaurants between them, the group stopped "aggressive discounting strategies" despite the tough times for customers, to preserve profits at the franchisees.

Over at RocoMamas, though, sales increased by 31.5%, with 15 new outlets taking the total count to 65. In the next year there are plans for at least eight more in South Africa – compared to four Spur Steak Ranches.

See also: Blacksteer went cheap shisanyama for a while, but new owners say it will get back to the best burgers and ribs again

RocoMamas' "quality and innovation continue to attract strong support from the urban millennial market," Spur told investors.

RocoMamas claims to have "the most instagrammed burger in South Africa". It has wildly positive reviews on Tripadvisor, which it actively solicits, and linked a recent promotion to tattoos.

On Thursday afternoon its Facebook like count stood at 387,089.

On weekends outlets often have a 10 to 15 minute wait for takeaway burgers starting at R47, and well over that to secure a table.

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