South African chain dodges burden of large store openings with ‘fast service’ model

RBW Spur

A leading South African steak and grill restaurant chain is piloting a small format retail concept that could lead to multiple sites in the UK and help it overcome the financial obstacle it faces to open larger stores over here.

Cape Town-based Spur Corporation is pinning its hopes on its new ‘RBW Spur’ concept proving a hit after opening the doors to its first site in Corby, Northamptonshire this week.

RBW badges itself as an “exciting new fast service restaurant concept” and said it is planning to open many sites throughout the UK, ideally by pursuing a franchise model.

The Spur Group, which launched in South Africa in 1967, operates numerous restaurants around the world, including the popular Spur Steak & Grill restaurants in the UK and Ireland.

It currently has sites in Aberdeen, Grays, Leicester, Staines at the O2 Arena in London, but earlier this year in a financial report it revealed the difficulty it faces in opening future stores in the UK that mirror the square footage of its existing restaurants.

“The high set-up cost of a full Spur Steak Ranch in the UK is proving to be a significant obstacle to pursuing a franchise business model, which is the group’s ultimate strategy. In response to this, the Spur RBW (Ribs Burgers Wings) high street model is being developed and we anticipate our first pilot store in the 2015 financial year.

“This model will be a smaller, counter service concept that will offer essentially ribs, burgers and chicken wings. This allows for a lower set-up cost, more manageable occupancy costs and reduces labour. The group will invest in the pilot stores to demonstrate their financial feasibility, but it is anticipated that the model will be an attractive franchising opportunity.”

The company says its goal is to offer customers a casual dining experience in a comfortable, friendly environment.

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