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The Competition Commission has prohibited a proposed takeover of Burger King in South Africa by an international private equity fund.

Last year, the struggling Grand Parade Investments announced that it would sell Burger King South Africa and Grand Foods Meat Plant, which primarily supplies Burger King with patties, to a fund owned by Emerging Capital Partners (ECP). ECP, which was founded in the US, is a private equity firm that focuses on African investments.

But the Competition Commission on Tuesday prohibited the transaction, objecting to the lack of black shareholding. 

“The Commission found that the merger would lead to a significant reduction in the shareholding of historically disadvantaged persons in the target firm, from more than 68% [empowerment shareholding in Grand Parade] to 0% as a result of the merger.”

While the Commission found that the proposed transaction is unlikely to have an impact on competition in SA, it said that historically disadvantaged persons (HDPs) won’t hold any ownership of Burger King SA following the deal.

“Thus, as a direct result of the proposed merger, the merged entity will have no ownership by HDPs and workers. The Commission is therefore concerned that the proposed merger will have a substantial negative effect on the promotion of greater spread of ownership.”

The commission says “the proposed transaction has raised significant public interest concerns in that it has a substantial negative effect on the promotion of a greater spread of ownership, in particular the levels of ownership by historically disadvantaged persons and workers in firms in the market.”

Burger King SA operates more than 90 fast-food restaurants across South Africa.

Grand Parade Investments, which also owns Grand West casino in Cape Town and stakes in other businesses, first announced the transaction in February last year.

The listed food and gaming empowerment group is buckling under a massive debt burden, due in part to its unsuccessful launch of US fast-food brands Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins in the country.

 

But by May it was forced to lower its sale price by 15% due to the impact of Covid-19, the company said.

The price for Burger King SA was cut from R670 million to R593 million, and the price for Grand Foods Meat Plant from R27 million to R23 million.

 

Grand Parade Investments acquired the South African master franchise for Burger King in 2012. 

Its share slumped by more than 5% following the Competition Commission’s announcement late on Tuesday.

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Dis-Chem CEO Ivan Saltzman.
Dis-Chem CEO Ivan Saltzman.
Deon Raath
 

Pharmacy retailer Dis-Chem has vaccinated more than 12 500 people at six sites in Gauteng during the first week of its Covid-19 inoculation rollout.

The rollout, which began last week, was off to a slow start but the numbers of people coming in for jabs increased on Thursday and Friday, the company said.

To assist with attendance, Dis-Chem has been forwarding automated SMS notifications from the Department of Health scheduling system as reminders to people scheduled to receive vaccinations at its sites.

Appointments are scheduled via the government’s electronic vaccine data system (EVDS) and people are supposed to be assigned to sites close to their homes.

Dis-Chem’s vaccination sites are not part of its pharmacies – but set up in separate parts of its Midrand head office as well as in dedicated spaces in the Centurion Mall, Mall of the South, Jabulani Mall, East Rand Mall and Fourways Mall.

The group’s CEO Ivan Saltzman encouraged eligible people over the age of 60 to register for vaccinations on the EVDS. 

“There is power in numbers and the quicker we can immunise more people, the quicker we will reach herd immunity and return to some sense of normality,” Saltzman said. 

Dis-Chem also warned that the supply of the vaccines could be constrained in the next few weeks.

 

South Africa is currently rolling out vaccinations for people over 60, but is racing against time to inoculate 67% of the population by the end of the year to achieve herd immunity.  

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Grocery retailer Woolworths has announced plans to open its first standalone liquor store – WCellar.

The first store will act as a standalone concept adjoining the food market of the Woolworths Nicolway branch in Bryanston, Johannesburg.

The aim is to open another WCellar store in the Gauteng region, with a view to rolling out to a national footprint in the future, the group said.

The initial store, which opens on 27 May, will offer a selection of wines, beers, craft beers, ciders and spirits.

“At Woolworths, we are constantly looking for ways to innovate and improve on our offering of quality products, so we’re really excited about the launch of the WCellar brand extension,” said Rebecca Constable, senior wine buyer for Woolworths.

“The selection of drinks has been carefully curated by our team of experts, and we’re confident that our customers won’t need, or want, to go anywhere else for their complete shop,” she said.

The move will see Woolworths competing with a number of other retailers which currently offer standalone liquor stores – including Spar’s TOPS brand and Pick n Pay Liquor.

Alcohol sales have remained a point of contention since South Africa first entered into its Covid-19 lockdown at the end of March 2020.

The alcohol industry subsequently lost over 20 weeks of work, with three separate bans instituted and billions of rands lost in taxes and revenue.

One of the biggest issues has been caused by the uncertainty of the bans and lack of forewarning from the government, with concerns that South Africa could face further restrictions on the sale of alcohol as it faces a third wave of covid-19 infections.

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Spur Steak Ranches has opened its first Spur Drive Thru restaurant in a bid to diversify its offering and appeal to customers looking for safe and more convenient ways to grab their favourite meals.

First Spur Drive Thru restaurant opens in SA

Located in Heinrich Ave, Karenpark, Pretoria, the new Spur drive-thru sits alongside a traditional Spur restaurant giving customers the choice of takeaway or sit-down.

The drive-thru offers meals that customers will find at traditional Spur restaurants, with the addition of a few new menu items like “tripchips, breakfasts in-hand, and delicious roadhouse-style desserts on the go”, according to Spur.

Spur Corporation, the franchise restaurant brand’s parent company, announced in March this year that it would be expanding its takeaway format after seeing strong growth in this category during the past year. These expansion plans included a drive-thru format for its RocoMamas chain, a drive-thru-clip-on for the Spur franchise and a drive-thru, click-and-collect option for the Bento franchise.

First Spur Drive Thru restaurant opens in SA
 

Val Nichas, Spur Corporation CEO commented on the Spur Drive Thru launch, “We are extremely excited to be launching the Spur brand into the drive-thru category, we are most grateful for the tremendous efforts of our internal teams and for the trust and partnership of our franchisee partner, Charles Fourie and his broader team.

“Spur Steak Ranches is on a journey of transformation as a brand and business. The introduction of the Drive Thru is one of the progressive steps we are taking towards a more sustainable brand and business.”

Franchisee partner, Charles Fourie, has been instrumental in driving the project after he recognised a customer need and proposed the idea of a drive-thru to the restaurant group. It has been a two-year journey for Fourie and his team who have altered their business to bring the new model to market.

“We are very proud and humbled to be part of this amazing project. Everybody involved worked very hard to make this dream come true. The Spur Drive Thru was built on a lot of passion, determination, and hard work from every team member. We are thankful, excited and looking forward to welcoming the Pretoria community to share this wonderful experience with you,” said Fourie.

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