Spur buys new gourmet brand: Brian Altriche – owner, RocoMamas

‘In a year-and-a-half I’ve built it to four stores.’

HANNA BARRY: In our SME feature this week Tumisang Ndlovu looks into a growing trend in franchising, particularly in the business of food outlets. The Spur Corp is said to acquire a majority stake in RocoMamas.
   Tumisang spoke to Brian Altriche, who launched the niche brand, about the 51% stake sought by the JSE-listed restaurant Spur.

BRIAN ALTRICHE: It’s a soft casual fast-food brand. Things are made from scratch, from non-processed ingredients. Yet still in a franchise… In a year-and-a-half I’ve built it to four stores, of which two are franchises. I’m going to be opening another two in two months, in fact one in two weeks’ time.
   But the infrastructure is critical. Spur has an awesome infrastructure to be able to assist with supply chain and general operations to keep stores running in the required way that they should be running.

TUMISANG NDLOVU: RocoMamas has grown in the last 18 months with four restaurants in the greater Johannesburg area, and three others in the pipeline. What are the expected benefits in the proposed sale?

BRIAN ALTRICHE: There have been a lot of enquiries from outlying regions such as Nelspruit and Pietermaritzburg. I could never do that myself. … what could happen to the brand if I even ventured down that road. So I think the benefit for me would be the infrastructure. The defining point was I need to keep it to from-scratch fast-food cooking.

TUMISANG NDLOVU: I also spoke to Brian about franchising opportunities in this business as it continues to grow.

BRIAN ALTRICHE: Look, I get about 10 to 15 requests daily for franchising. I am obviously going to sit down with Spur and rather use their franchise model because that works. I want to protect the brand, I don’t want to cannibalise on the existing Spurs. All the stores are trading exceptionally well.

TUMISANG NDLOVU: Brian, what are the challenges you have faced in this line of business so far since launching in 2013?

BRIAN ALTRICHE: You have to be on point and controlling of all the products you get into your store because the guys, if you just take your eyes off the ball of supply, you have sub-standard products. That has been my biggest challenge.

TUMISANG NDLOVU: Given that RocoMamas is a niche food outlet, is it important in this line of business to have an edge?

BRIAN ALTRICHE: … It’s a great return on investment in the four stores that I’ve got at the moment. They’ve exceeded expectation. Two of them are franchises; both of those franchises have already said that they want to open more stores. In fact, the one has already signed for a shop that will open in April. I think the key is to have happy franchisees. As a Spur man I’m a happy franchisee. I think I’ll get the same ethos in RocoMamas.

TUMISANG NDLOVU: lastly – any advice to entrepreneurs with interests in the restaurant business?

BRIAN ALTRICHE: We are definitely becoming more an more of a takeout and a dining away from home market. I also think that the cost of preparing meals at home is expensive. So I think that the South African population is embracing it a lot more compared to 15 years ago, 10 years ago. So I can only see growth in it. The franchise side of the market also creates a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to get into having their own business, and obviously you can provide a more consistent product. There are a lot of what I term mom-and-pop shops that are consistently good, and then when they open a second one they can’t handle two businesses. It is a difficult game. It’s not an easy game.

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