LOUISVILLE, KY. — Papa John’s International, Inc. unveiled a new senior management team on Nov. 6, the same day the Louisville-based company reported a quarterly North American comparable sales increase for the first time in two years. Papa John’s stock on the Nasdaq was trading at $60.68 per share in the late morning of Nov. 6, which compared to a Nov. 5 close of $57.19 per share.
“As we introduce a more focused plan and strategic priorities for the company, we are realigning Papa John’s senior management, promoting leaders within the company and adding proven talent,” said Rob Lynch, president and chief executive officer. “The strong, streamlined team has more clearly defined responsibilities and priorities, which I believe will empower our senior leaders to make quicker, better decisions, collaborate more effectively and focus investment and effort on the key drivers of Papa John’s future growth and success.”
Max Wetzel, formerly vice-president, consumer brands and chief transformation officer at PPG Industries, will join Papa John’s as chief commercial and marketing officer on Nov. 18. He will oversee marketing, menu strategy, product innovation, customer experience and a new project management office. Mr. Wetzel previously was an executive at H.J. Heinz Co., now part of Kraft Heinz Co.
“A transformational leader, Max earned a reputation as a strategic and growth-oriented consumer marketer during his career at H.J. Heinz and most recently PPG,” Mr. Lynch said. “Now, as our new chief commercial and marketing officer, he will lead the company’s efforts to reestablish the superiority of our pizza with consumers across our various platforms.”
Jim Norberg, senior vice-president, chief of restaurant operations for Papa John’s, has been named chief operating officer, North America. Jack Swaysland will continue as chief operating officer, International.
Mike Nettles, chief operating and growth officer, and Karlin Linhardt, chief marketing officer, will leave the company after a transition period. Joe Smith, chief financial officer, will leave the company some time in 2020 as Papa John’s searches for a new c.f.o.
The executive team also will include Marvin Boakye, chief people and diversity officer; Madeline Chadwick, senior vice-president, communications and corporate affairs; Justin Falciola, chief insights and technology officer; Shane Hutchins, chief supply chain officer; and Caroline Oyler, chief legal and risk officer.
The 1% comparable store sales growth in North America in the third quarter ended Sept. 29 compared to a 10% decline in the previous year’s third quarter. The company sustained sales declines following controversial comments from former chairman of the board John H. Schnatter, who left the company in 2018.
“We are very pleased to have positive comparable sales in North America for the first time in two years,” said Mr. Lynch, who was appointed president and c.e.o. in August. “I have spent a large part of my first two months meeting with our franchisees, team members and other key stakeholders. We are all focused on the right things: reinforcing the quality of our food, improving our unit economics and promoting a company culture that sets us up to win for years to come.”
Comparable sales growth in international restaurants in this year’s third quarter was 1.6%, which compared to a decline of 3.3% in the previous year’s third quarter.
Net income of $385,000 compared to a net loss of $13.3 million in the previous year’s third quarter. Because of a loss of $3.5 million due to preferred stock dividends and accretion, net loss attributable to common shareholders was $3.1 million in the third quarter of 2019. Total revenues increased 4.8% to $403.7 million from $385.2 million.
Over the first nine months of the fiscal year, Papa John’s reported net income of $7 million, which was down 54% from $15,342 million, or 47c per share, in the same time of the previous year. Because of a loss of $9 million due to preferred stock dividends and accretion over the first nine months of 2019, the net loss attributable to common shareholders was $2 million. Nine-month revenues were $1,201.7 million, down 5% from $1,265.3 million.