27/06/2017 14:31 SAST | Updated 28/06/2017 07:13 SAST

Spur Crumbles Under Boycott Pressure And 'Postpones' Panel

"Spur needs to go back to their white customers and ask them why they are angry."

Pierre van Tonder, CEO of Spur Corporation.
Lerato Maduna/Gallo Images
Pierre van Tonder, CEO of Spur Corporation.

In a further controversial move, Spur's CEO, Pierre van Tonder, released a statement on Monday saying the company decided to "postpone" a panel set up to ease the backlash it faced after a racial incident between two patrons.

The statement said the decision was made due to "overwhelming public response and customer input from the ground level".

The panel was put together by Spur to evaluate the negative reactions to the restaurant after a white, middle-aged man approached a black woman at her table to shout at her because her daughter apparently bullied his son. The incident caused an uproar on social media from both white and black customers and caused an even bigger frenzy amongst the white customers after Spur chose to ban the man from Spur.

After the banning, trade union Solidarity called for a boycott of Spur, which the company said was "blown out of proportion to serve a specific political agenda".

The panel was intended to comprise diverse experts who were invited to view commentary on social media and from the broader public in order to find better solutions and recommendations on how Spur could remedy the situation. Spur decided to apologise to customers and is going on a nationwide tour to "gain greater understanding of their customers and franchisees", putting the panel on hold.

Dirk Hermann, leader of the Solidarity said on Tuesday the union was happy with Spur's change of plans. In a call with HuffPost, Hermann explained he suggested this plan to Spur management because he did not feel the panel would solve anything.

"We believe that the right strategy is to listen to their customers from the ground up. It is the right direction and will be effective in solving this problem," he said.

Hermann said Spur angered its customers with its first response, and could only be successful again if they toured South Africa.

"Spur needs to go back to their white customers and ask them why they are angry," he said.

Franchise owner Piet Kruger, who says he lost 15 percent to 20 percent of his customers in the first four weeks of the incident, was also satisfied with Spur's new plan.

"We are closer to the customers and we know them better than Spur [head office] does," he says.

Kruger, who owns two Spur franchises, says he does not believe it was Spur's decision to ban the man -- who is still unnamed -- from their restaurant.

"In my humble opinion that incident should have been nothing more than two parents arguing," he said.

He says they are now working together with Spur's top management to rebuild spur "one plate of chips, and one pork rib at a time".

Social media, meanwhile...