Former Papa Johnís CEO John Schnatter blasts pizza company

In television interview, exiled founder criticizes brand leadership


Ron Ruggless, Nation's Restaurant News†

Nov 26, 2019


John Schnatter, former CEO of Papa Johnís International Inc., added fuel Monday to his ongoing feud with the company he founded.


In a nearly five-minute exclusive segment Monday with Louisville, Ky., television station WDRB, Schnatter said heís eaten 40 pies in last 30 days. ďAnd itís not the same pizza,Ē he said in the interview, which also touched on the companyís controversies and ensuing leadership changes.


ďIt's not the same product. It just doesn't taste as good,Ē Schnatter said. ďThe way they're making the pizza, the way they are putting the pizza together is not just fundamentally sound to what makes a Papa Johnís pizza a Papa Johnís pizza.Ē


At midday Tuesday, Papa Johnís stock was down more than 30 cents a share, or 0.5%, to $61.51.


The Louisville-based pizza company did not respond to a request for comment.


Schnatter stepped down as CEO in January 2018 following a controversy over his blame of flagging sales on protests in the National Football League. He stepped down as chairman in July 2018 after his use of a racial slur during media training. Activist investor Starboard Value LP bought into the company after a sales decline, and Papa Johnís named Rob Lynch, a former Arbyís executives, as CEO in August.


In the television interview, Schnatter said the race controversy was fabricated and company insiders used the incident as an opportunity to push him out.


"I just didn't know it would happen from people on the inside doing this," he said. "I thought it would come from the outside."


Schnatter said heís been selling his shares in the company.


"My metaphor is: There's no reason to be in the car when the car crashes even if you love the car," he said.


"Stay tuned. The day of reckoning will come," Schnatter said in the television interview. "The record will be straight."


For the third quarter ended Sept. 29, Papa Johnís net income was $385,000, for a loss of 10 cents a share, compared to a net loss of $13.3 million, or a loss of 42 cents a share, in the prior-year period. Revenues...


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