Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Papa John’s blames Papa John for big sales decline

Getty Images Getty Images
Rhonda Young | 08 August, 2018, 20:27

Same-store sales in North America during the second quarter dropped 6.1 percent; global same-store sales also declined slightly but by less than 1 percent.

The latest controversy that resulted in Schnatter's departure as chairman came after revelations that Schnatter had used a racial slur against African Americans in a conference call.

The sales drop underscores the multiple challenges facing Papa John's.

The pizza chain slashed its sales outlook for the year, and its shares fell more than 10 percent. Our entire leadership team understands the importance of getting our culture and business improvements right.

Putting aside things the company is working on - including changing pricing after doing a study at every one of its US restaurants, a third-party audit of company culture, possible discussions with lenders, its possible financial assistance for franchisees, such as short-term reductions in royalty payments, to keep them from shutting down, and its partnership with DoorDash to expand delivery to zones restaurants don't cover - there's a lot to be done to fix the brand.

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Papa John's CEO Steve Ritchie's comments included zingers like this: "We are not dependent, nor should we be, on one person". A special committee of the board of directors will oversee an outside auditor's investigation into Papa John's culture, including the company's existing processes, policies and systems related to diversity and inclusion.

Papa John's says it can't predict for how long or how much its sales will be hurt by bad publicity.

"The research and analysis we conducted after comments by our founder in November of 2017 have made it clear that we needed to move away from a founder-centric marketing plan", Ritchie said.

"The recent events are further evidence that we need to move on" from founder John Schnatter, he added.

But the company is envisioning a future and new marketing campaign later this year without Schnatter, whose image until just a few weeks ago was on a logo all over its website.

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Late previous year, Schnatter had already stepped down as CEO after blaming disappointing sales on the NFL's handling of player protests during the national anthem. About 80 percent of the company's 3,400 restaurants in North America are owned by franchisees. Still, Schnatter, who admits to making those comments, says the company does better when he's there.

Papa John's has banned Schnatter from all media appearances and enacted a "poison pill" measure to prevent Schnatter from acquiring a controlling stake in the company. The company said it was "saddened and disappointed" by the lawsuit, which it called "needless and wasteful".

"Instead of addressing the real and fundamental issues. the company is trying to deflect attention from the source of the problem - management's ongoing failures with regard to financial performance - and blame me for its problems", Schnatter said.

"History shows that the Company performs better with me involved, and it declines when I step away", he said.

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