* CEO Pierre van Tonder to retire at end of Dec
* Van Tonder has been CEO for 24-years
* Company will consider internal & external candidates for new CEO (Adds details)
JOHANNESBURG, July 20 (Reuters) - Spur Corporation's SURJ.J Chief Executive Officer Pierre van Tonder will retire from the group at the end of December after 24 years at the helm, the South African restaurant franchisor said on Monday.
The 61-year-old has transformed the Cape Town-based company into one of the country's leading restaurant businesses with more than 640 restaurants across South Africa, the rest of Africa, Mauritius, Australasia and the Middle East.
He oversaw the expansion of the brand portfolio through in-house development of brands and the acquisition of smaller brands like RocoMamas burger chain, The Hussar Grill and John Dory's seafood and grill chain, Spur Corporation Chairman Mike Bosman said in a statement.
Spur, owner of Spur Steak Ranches and Panarottis Pizza and Pasta chains, said it has started looking for a new CEO and will consider both internal and external candidates.
Van Tonder has served as managing director/CEO since 1996. He joined the group in 1982 as a junior restaurant manager and was appointed to the holding company board 10 years later.
Spur, like its peers, has been severely hit by the coronavirus restrictions that saw its stores closed for five weeks. From May it slowly started re-opening some of the restaurants for delivery only but has since opened all for restricted sit-down trading from June.
Spur's restaurant sales slowed dramatically in March, dropping 46.7% over the corresponding period in 2019. Sales for the period March 16 to March 31, following the declaration of the state of disaster and lockdown, tumbled 75.7%, with trading ceasing on March 26 for the lockdown, it said.
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