New Papa John’s CEO Tasked With Reset

New Papa John’s CEO Rob Lynch is making changes at the embattled pizza chain in an attempt to rebound from the bad publicity surrounding its former chief and founder John Schnatter.

Reuters is reporting that the company’s CFO, Joe Smith, is leaving next year, among a number of other changes.

Before his new position at Papa John’s, Lynch was the president of Arby’s Restaurant Group. He took over as CEO at Papa John’s in August and was asked by investor Starboard Value to steward the company into a new era.

Schnatter resigned in 2018 after his controversial remarks about the leadership at the National Football League in regards to players protesting during the national anthem. He also was accused of graphically describing violence against minorities.

“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media-training session regarding race are true,” Schnatter said in a statement released at the time. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

Schnatter recently sold 1.9 million shares of Papa John’s stock, worth about $107.5 million, according to reports.

The pizza company also announced a number of other top level management changes, which include the hiring of a new chief commercial and marketing officer, Max Wetzel. Wetzel previously worked at chemicals company PPG Industries.

Lynch said the new management team was “streamlined” and that it would take less time to make strategic decisions and help move the company beyond Schnatter and his image.

The company said Q3 comparable sales were positive in North America for the first time in almost two years. They were up 1 percent, which beat analysts estimates of 0.7 percent.

Company shares were up 7.4 percent at $61.38.

“While we recognize the recovery will take time and may have a few bumps along the way, we believe results this quarter demonstrate the turnaround is unfolding,” BTIG analyst Peter Saleh said in a note.


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