Famous Brands sells controlling stake in tashas back to founding family
JOHANNESBURG – Famous Brands on Monday announced the surprise sale of its 51 percent controlling stake in tashas, the boutique café brand, back to its founders, the Sideris family, who hold the remaining 49 percent.
Famous Brands, Africa’s leading branded food services franchisor whose business consists of 24 restaurant brands, said that the sale was in line with group strategy.
“The sale is in line with the group’s three year-strategic road map, which includes a narrower focus of investment of resources in the signature brands portfolio, which includes tashas,” said the company.
tashas was founded in 2005 by Natasha Sideris, partnered by Savva Sideris, her brother, who opened their first café in Atholl Square in Joburg.
In 2008, Famous Brands acquired a 51 percent stake in the business, which comprised two restaurants and has grown to a network of 18 restaurants in South Africa and eight in the United Arab Emirates.
Nolwandle Mthombeni, an investment analyst at Mergence Investment Managers, said yesterday that the sale of the stake was a surprise, given tashas’s solid growth.
“The market expected that it may exit some brands, but tashas was not expected to be part, given the good growth,” Mthombeni said.
Famous Brands’ portfolio of signature brands include Turn 'n Tender, Paul, Vovo Telo, Mythos, NetCafé, Coffee Couture, Salsa Mexican Grill, Lupa Osteria, Europa, Keg and House of Coffees.
Some of the brands are wholly owned, while others are joint venture partnerships with the founders of the respective brands and have been subject to ongoing reconstruction and review amid a constrained economic environment.
The signature brands were severely impacted by the lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the group said in its annual report for the year ended February 29.
Famous Brands said the signature brands operated in the over-traded, highly competitive casual dining market segment and their performance for the review period reflect the difficulties faced.
The company said that in the third phase of the pandemic, which commenced with the national lockdown on March 27, and subsequently eased slightly on May 1 with delivery-only sales permitted, only 40 percent of its brand portfolio was adaptable to trade.
It said revenue declined by 72 percent in the signature brands portfolio.
The group said that it was aiming to further simplify its brands portfolio and invest in those that can achieve critical mass in the 2020/21 financial year.
Famous Brands shares rose 1.42 percent to close at R47.71 on the JSE yesterday.